It is conceivable that the Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves could potentially line up on a swap for outfielder Kevin Pilla.
We can all probably agree that Kevin Pillar is not in the Blue Jays long-term plans moving forward and there is a good likelihood the centerfielder will be moved sooner than later. Now add to the equation that Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos has gone on record saying the Braves current priority is to add an outfielder.
The Braves are looking to replace free agent Nick Markakis in right field adding to their outfield trio of Ronald Acuna and Ender Inciarte. The 35-year old earned $11 million in his final season with Atlanta while accumulating a 2.6 WAR.
Anthopoulos was at the helm of the Jays from 2009-2015 and was part of the brain trust that drafted Pillar in the 32nd round, 979th overall in the 2011 amateur draft. The only other player selected from that round to make the majors is Billy Burns who had a cup of coffee with the Athletics and Royals over parts of four seasons.
Pillar is often put on a pedestal north of the border and somewhat overvalued by the Blue Jays faithful, however, A.A. may be the best suited to put together a fair package for the outfielder knowing what he brings on and off the field better than any other GM.
The longest-tenured Jays player has a consistent track record for remaining on the field even though he sometimes plays with a reckless abandon. Pillar is projected to earn $5.3 million next season by MLB Trade Rumors and will not hit free agency until 2021. Last season Pillar was good for 2.5 Wins Above Replacement hitting .252 with 15 homers.
The Braves are in win-now mode and would have no issues parting with mid-level prospects to acquire the services of Pillar in a potential swap. The Braves would also save nearly $6 million from what they paid Markakis last season, added financial flexibility they could throw toward a closer to shore up the backend of their bullpen.
Anthopoulos has already reunited with one of his former Blue Jays players this offseason, could Pillar be next? Stranger things have happened.