The Giants have a decision to make with Kevin Pillar. Will they bring back the popular center fielder who bashed 21 homers last season and earned a 10th place NL MVP vote?
It's not that simple.
Pillar is entering his third and final year of arbitration eligibility, and after one of the best seasons of his seven-year career, he will come with a hefty price tag. The veteran turns 31 years old in January and is projected to make nearly $10 million this offseason in arbitration. That is, if the Giants let him get there.
San Francisco has until Dec. 2 to offer Pillar a contract or he will be non-tendered and become a free agent. While the exciting center fielder was perhaps the Giants' best player last season, he might not fit their timeline.
"I think being in the transition phase that we're at, and having some younger outfielders we may look to create some playing time for -- that's a little bit of the dynamic," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said to The Athletic's Tim Kawakami when asked about Pillar on the "TK Show."
The Giants once again are entering an offseason with question marks in their outfield. Mike Yastrzemski earned a spot for at least 2020 after batting .272 with 21 homers and an .852 OPS in 107 games last season as a 28-year-old rookie. But there are other intriguing options, too.
Austin Slater, who turns 27 years old in December, can play multiple positions around the diamond and finally proved to have some power in his bat. Speaking of power, Alex Dickerson -- who also is arbitration-eligible -- hit six homers and had an eye-opening .529 slugging percentage in just 56 games for the Giants, but injuries once again derailed his season.
Other in-house outfield options for the Giants include younger players like Steven Duggar (26), Jaylin Davis (25) and Chris Shaw (26). There also is the chance top prospect Heliot Ramos (20) makes his MLB debut next season.
This doesn't mean that Pillar's time in San Francisco is over, though. Along with his 21 homers, he hit .264 with 87 RBI and a .735 OPS in 156 games for the Giants. Zaidi knows letting him go would be a big loss.
"Kevin Pillar was the Willie Mac winner, he had a terrific season for us," Zaidi said. "Obviously he was incredibly popular with the fans -- not just with his production but his durability and the fact that he was out there every day."
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Still, it's clear Zaidi's plan goes well beyond the 2020 season.
"And again, I think the juncture that we're in as an organization, we're gonna have to view every baseball decision we make as a little bit of a tradeoff between production and development, and the present and the future," he said.