Report: Red Sox close to deal with Kevin Pillar to help fill Mookie Betts' shoes

The Boston Red Sox have reportedly found a new outfielder to help out now that they’ve officially traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Kevin Pillar, the former Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants centerfielder, is close to returning to the AL East and joining the Red Sox, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The Red Sox say they can still contend even without Betts, and Pillar certainly can’t hurt that aim.

Part of Boston’s motivation in dealing Betts and David Price was getting financial flexibility for 2020 and beyond — and Pillar represents their first purchase with that newfound flexibility. The deal, of course, would be pending a physical. Everybody in Boston is aware of that these days following the six-day medical hold-up in the Betts trade.

Kevin Pillar is returning to the AL East after a reported free-agent deal with the Boston Red Sox. (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In Pillar, the Red Sox are getting a veteran who plays great defense. His bat has never been a huge strength, but Pillar did quite well last year after he was traded from Toronto to San Francisco. He hit 21 homers with 87 RBIs, both of which were career highs. Still, the Giants decided not to tender the 31-year-old Pillar a contract, making him a free agent.

Realistically, he gives the Red Sox some position flexibility. With Andrew Benintendi in left and Jackie Bradley Jr. in center, Pillar could split time with Alex Verdugo, the centerpiece of the Betts deal, in right field. Pillar could also play center if the Red Sox see fit to trade Jackie Bradley Jr., who is a free agent after this season and is making $11 million.

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