Giants don't tender Kevin Pillar a contract after one season with team

Giants don't tender Kevin Pillar a contract after one season with team

SAN FRANCISCO -- It didn't take long for Kevin Pillar to win over the fan base and his new clubhouse, but his run as a Giant is over after only one season.

The Giants non-tendered Pillar before Monday night's deadline, making him a free agent for the first time.

Pillar, acquired in the first week of the season from the Toronto Blue Jays, led the Giants in homers, RBI and stolen bases, but there were other issues in his statistical profile and the organization preferred to go with a younger group in the outfield.

Pillar was expected to make about $10 million in his final year of arbitration.

"It was a difficult decision. It was a baseball decision, not a financial decision," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told NBC Sports Bay Area. "We want to make sure that we can provide the opportunity to some of our younger outfielders who have emerged over the last year."

That group includes Mike Yastrzemski, who tied Pillar for the team lead with 21 homers and could see plenty of time in center field next season, Austin Slater and Alex Dickerson, who reportedly agreed to a one-year deal Monday worth $925,000. Two young prospects, one acquired by Zaidi and one he inherited, also will receive a long look.

"Jaylin Davis got a little bit of big league time, and we want to make sure he gets an opportunity," Zaidi said. "Steven Duggar is coming off an injury, and we're expecting him to be 100 percent coming into camp. I would still expect us to add to that picture by looking at free agents and trades.

"The versatility of a couple of those guys to play center field may give us an opportunity to add an impact bat in one of the corner spots, which is something we've talked about all offseason. We're looking for offensive production and a way to score more runs. We're going to have financial flexibility to explore those avenues in trades and free agency, but an equally important part of this is making sure we're creating an opportunity for some young players."

That group includes Davis, a 25-year-old who was acquired at the trade deadline and hit 35 homers in the minors last season, and Duggar, a 26-year-old who once looked like the organization's center fielder of the future before shoulder injuries stalled his progress. Yastrzemski appeared more than capable of handling center field when given limited opportunities last season, and the Giants also could go with a wild card who might be the most intriguing option of all.

When Mauricio Dubon was picked up from the Milwaukee Brewers before the trade deadline, team officials talked of him one day serving a super-utility role, similar to what Kiké Hernandez has done so successfully in Los Angeles. While Dubon currently looks slated for the starting job at second base, he will get work in center field during spring training.

At the start of last spring, Duggar was the only one in that group who was part of the organization. Zaidi added Pillar to the mix after he struggled in five games with the Blue Jays early in the year, and the veteran ended up being an integral piece for the Giants.

Pillar hit 21 homers and drove in 87 runs in 156 games, but there were underlying numbers that concerned the Giants as they looked toward the future. Pillar, who turns 31 in January, ranked second to last among qualified NL hitters with a .293 on-base percentage, walking just 18 times all season at a time when the Giants are preaching plate discipline throughout every level of the organization.

While he made plenty of highlight-reel grabs, Pillar was worth negative-5 Defensive Runs Saved per FanGraphs, ranking 12th out of 14 qualified NL center fielders in the SABR index used for Gold Glove awards.

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Pillar seemed to know this fate might be coming at the end of the year, saying he didn't want to talk too much about the organization's future because he wasn't sure what the front office would decide.

There has not been much of a trade market for players in Pillar's situation, and the Giants' front office ultimately decided to make a decision that will be unpopular with much of the fan base and a clubhouse that gave the center fielder the Willie Mac Award. It's one they believe will set them up better for the future, including the 2020 season.

Bruce Bochy named Team France manager for World Baseball Classic

Bruce Bochy named Team France manager for World Baseball Classic

SAN FRANCISCO -- There was a poorly-kept secret as Bruce Bochy marched toward his final game as manager of the Giants: Bochy was going to manage again in 2020. This week, it became official. 

The France Baseball Association announced that Bochy will manage Team France in the World Baseball Classic qualifier taking place in Tucson, Arizona from March 22-27. France will be competing with Germany, Spain and others to get a spot in the 2021 WBC.

Bochy had met with the association during the summer but had to iron out some details after the season. 

Didier Seminet, the president of the French federation, said he was "proud to announce Bruce Bochy" as manager and noted that Bochy, born in Landes de Bussac, has a "special relationship" with the country. 

"We are very honored and excited that he wishes to seize this opportunity to help the development of French baseball," Seminet said in a statement. 

This is something Bochy has been looking forward to, and he recently said that he's excited about making it a family affair. His brother, Joe, will be on the coaching staff.

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Brett Bochy, a former Giants prospect who pitched for his father at the big league level, will be on the pitching staff. When Brett visited Oracle Park for his father's final series as manager, he said he already was working out in preparation for returning to the mound.

Ron Wotus, a third base coach for Gabe Kapler next season, is also expected to be on the staff

Where new Giants prospect Will Wilson ranks in team's farm system

Where new Giants prospect Will Wilson ranks in team's farm system

The Giants essentially bought veteran infielder Zack Cozart's contract from the Angels on Tuesday to add a talented young prospect.

San Francisco acquired Cozart and middle infield prospect Will Wilson from the Angels for a player to be named later or cash. The Giants are taking on all of Cozart's $12.67 million contract for the 2020 season. Cozart will become a free agent in 2021. The 34-year-old, who has hit just .190 with five home runs the last two seasons, was an All-Star when healthy in 2017, but Wilson is the real prize of the deal. 

Wilson was selected No. 15 overall by the Angels in the 2019 MLB Draft. He immediately became a top-10 Giants prospect after the trade. MLB Pipeline ranks him No. 10 overall in the team's farm system, and FanGraphs has him even higher. 

The 21-year-old hit .275 with a .768 OPS and five home runs in 46 games at rookie ball in his debut season. He played 28 games at shortstop and 13 at second base. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Wilson will play both positions in the minor leagues, and the front office believes he will stick as a middle infielder. 

[RELATED: New Giants prospect Wilson already hates rival Dodgers]

Wilson was a consensus All-American as a junior at NC State, and was voted ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He hit .352 with nine homers and a 1.089 OPS in his final season for the Wolfpack. 

Prior to being traded to the Giants, Wilson was ranked as the Angels' No. 4 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He comes in lower with San Francisco, showing how much the Giants' farm system is on the rise with top prospects like Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos, Marco Luciano and others.