Kevin Pillar is 31 years old.
He’s a former 32nd-round draft pick in the midst of his eighth major league season with his third organization, the Boston Red Sox, who signed him to a one-year contract back in February.
He’s played on good teams, bad teams and mediocre teams, and he already knows what it’s like to be traded, having been dealt from the Toronto Blue Jays to the San Francisco Giants last season after an extensive tenure north of the border.
Simply put, Pillar has been around the game long enough to know how things work. So, with the Aug. 31 Major League Baseball trade deadline looming, the Red Sox outfielder isn’t sweating the small stuff or paying much attention to the rumors that’ll inevitably surround Boston, which established itself as a seller Friday by shipping relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitchers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold.
?I don?t think anyone?s really talked much about it,? Pillar told reporters Sunday, via a video conference, of the possibility Boston might make more trades in the next week. ?I think we?re just kind of just living in the moment. I think if rumors start to circulate a little bit more, something?s closer to materializing, especially for a guy that?s maybe only been in one organization, I definitely feel like I can offer him some advice. Until it happens, it?s just kind of all rumors.
“I think we?re human beings. If we do see our names come up, I think we have natural emotions and reactions to it. But from everything this organization and (Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke) has said, if it?s something that?s becoming a little bit more of a reality, they?ll definitely take the time to let us know and prepare us. And I haven?t had that conversation yet. So as far as I know, I?m here to stay.?
Pillar very well could be among the Red Sox players mentioned in trade rumors in the coming days. Not because the club doesn’t think highly of him. But because a playoff contender might come calling.
Pillar has been a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for the Red Sox, who own one of the league’s worst records. He’s set to reenter free agency this offseason, though, and the Red Sox therefore might look to flip him before the deadline in exchange for an asset that’ll help down the road.
It’s all part of the business, which Pillar and the rest of the clubhouse experienced firsthand Friday when Workman and Hembree — two longtime bullpen stalwarts with World Series rings on their fingers — were traded for a reclamation starter and a prospect.
?It?s obviously a reality of kind of where we put ourselves as a team, allowing the front office to make the moves they made,” Pillar said. “But ultimately, it?s our jobs as professionals to go out there and compete every single day we go out on the field.”
Pillar has competed as hard as anyone on the Red Sox’s roster this season. He’s been a solid contributor, offensively and defensively, and also has emerged as a vocal leader, on several occasions offering a refreshing outlook on the totality of Boston’s struggles.
As such, it’ll be somewhat of a shame if his Red Sox tenure lasts only a few short months. Still, one shouldn’t expect Pillar to harbor any ill will toward Boston’s front office if he ultimately lands elsewhere when the dust settles following this year’s unique trade deadline.
?Initially being traded, I think I took as kind of a slap in the face, especially given everything I felt like I gave to my previous organization,? Pillar said, looking back on last season’s Blue Jays-Giants swap. ?But you soon realize being traded is not necessarily because a team doesn?t want you. It might mean because another team wants you more and they might be going in a different direction.
“So for me, it?s just not getting caught up in if or when or where. It?s just going out and doing my job every single day. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn?t, I?m happy to be here and I?m going to continue to go out and play the way I play.?
Honest. Thoughtful. Grounded.
Pillar might not be part of Boston’s rebuild, but he sure has the right mentality for a market that demands hard work and accountability in the pursuit of annual success.