Pirates are Looking for a Center Fielder in Free Agency

According to Jon Heyman, the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking at a group of center fielders to help fill the gap left by the Starling Marte trade.

Heyman noted in a tweet this morning that “Free agents Kevin Pillar, Billy Hamilton and Cameron Maybin are among CF candidates Pirates are considering.”

In a tweet yesterday, Heyman noted that the Pirates were trying to get back a center fielder from the Padres, specifically mentioning 25-year-old Manuel Margot. He had a .691 OPS in 151 games last year, while providing above average defense in center field, resulting in a 1.8 WAR.

The 31-year-old Pillar hit .264/.293/.442 in 156 games for the Giants last year. He has a career .701 OPS over seven seasons in the majors. He has been known as a strong defender in center field over the years, though he peaked at a combined 7.4 dWAR in 2015-17, and has put up 0.1 over the last two seasons, including a -0.2 last year.

Hamilton is 29 years old and coming off of a .218/.289/.275 slash line in 119 games, split between the Royals and Braves. His 22 stolen bases are a career low for a full season, and just like Pillar, he had his worst defensive season according to dWAR, with a -0.3 mark.

Maybin, who turns 33 on April 4th, hit .285/.364/.494 in 82 games for the Yankees in 2019. That’s well above his .701 career OPS over his 13 seasons in the majors. Maybin played just 20 innings in center field in 2019, and split his time almost 50/50 between left field and center field in the two prior seasons. He had a -0.2 dWAR last year as a corner outfielder.

It’s a group of veterans that are all on the downside defensively, but Pillar hit a career high 21 homers in 2019 and Maybin had his best season at the plate, so they would help the offense. Pillar was with Toronto until joining the Giants in early April last year, so there’s a connection with this front office.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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