Braves: What are the odds Kevin Pillar makes the major-league roster?

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In case you missed it, the Braves inked a minor-league deal with Kevin Pillar last night, adding to their outfield depth. If he makes the major-league roster, he’ll make $3 million in 2023.

This is a very interesting signing because of how lucrative it is if he ends up playing in Atlanta. There are plenty of deals that guarantee players money if they make the major-league roster, but it’s usually around $1 million instead of $3 million. That higher salary could deter the Braves from keeping him if the competition is close, but Pillar has one of the better career resumés of the outfielders on the roster.

Pillar’s best season came back in 2015 when he was the starting centerfielder for the Blue Jays, recording 3.7 fWAR over 159 games. That’s not what the Braves should be expecting from him now. He only played in four games last year due to injury, but he could provide this team with some much-needed depth in the outfield.

Offensively, Pillar has been a similar player over his entire career. He hits for a decent average, and his power numbers have increased with age, recording at least 15 homers in each of his last four full seasons. However, that’s not why he will make the major-league roster.

Pillar could see some spot starts, but his primary attribute is his defense. He’s mostly been a centerfielder his entire career and could slot over into left field in the late innings as a defensive replacement, filling the role Guillermo Heredia served for the team last year.

Pillar is a far better offensive player than Heredia, but I don’t see him earning many at-bats over the guys the Braves currently have on the roster. Eddie Rosario, Marcell Ozuna, and even Jordan Luplow are much more reliable with the stick. Because of that, I think it will be difficult for Pillar to make the major-league roster out of camp.

The Braves have been one of the stingiest teams this offseason, and I don’t see that changing. $3 million is a lot of money to pay a defensive replacement. The only way I see Pillar eventually contributing in Atlanta is if injuries arise. Otherwise, he’s just organizational depth that will spend the year in Gwinnett.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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