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Red Sox working to sign free agent outfielder Kevin Pillar, report says

Kevin Pillar hit .278 with an .823 OPS and 21 extra-base hits in 162 at-bats against lefthanded pitchers last season.John Amis/FR69715 AP via AP

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox are working to sign free agent outfielder Kevin Pillar following the trade of Mookie Betts, according to a report by the MLB Network Tuesday.

Pillar, a righthanded hitter, would give the Sox platoon capability with their three lefthanded-hitting outfielders, Jackie Bradley Jr. in particular.

Pillar hit .278 with an .823 OPS and 21 extra-base hits in 162 at-bats against lefthanded pitchers last season.

Bradley is a career .232 hitter against lefties with little power. Since 2018, he is 57 of 283 (.201) against lefthanders with 103 strikeouts.

Pillar was a productive player for the Blue Jays from 2013-18. Toronto traded him to the Giants last April 2 and he started 150 games.


Pillar, 31, is a career .307 hitter in 47 games at Fenway Park.

Kevin Pillar makes a diving grab to rob Brock Holt of a base hit in a 2018 game at Fenway.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

The Red Sox also added catcher Juan Centeno, outfielder Cesar Puello, and righthander Denyi Reyes to the lengthy list of non-roster players on the spring training roster.

The Sox will have 65 players in camp, 33 of them pitchers.

Puello, who turns 29 in April, also is a righthanded-hitting outfielder and has experience in center field. Puello had a .740 OPS in 147 plate appearances with the Angels and Marlins last season.

Perez checks in

Martin Perez had a 5.49 earned run average the last two seasons, the highest in baseball among the 90 pitchers with at least 250 innings.

Opposing hitters had the highest batting average (.296), on-base percentage (.361), and OPS (.830) against Perez.

But the Red Sox looked deeper and saw fit to sign the lefthander to a one-year, $6.5 million contract with a team option for 2021.

Perez gave up a lot of hits but had the fourth-lowest exit velocity at 84.5 miles per hour last season. He also ranked high in terms allowing a low percentage of hard-hit balls.


So at least some of his high ERA was of a function of bad luck. It’s also worth noting that Perez was 8-3 with a 4.10 ERA through July 17 last season before falling back into some bad habits.

All told, not a bad risk for a No. 5 starter. But now Perez has moved up in the rotation with David Price being traded to the Dodgers.

Martin Perez gets in some throwing Tuesday at the Jet Blue Park complex.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

“It’s an honor for me to be here. I wanted to be a part of this team when I was young,” Perez said Tuesday after arriving at camp. “I know this is a great organization. They like to win a lot.

“I’m here to do all that I can to give this team a chance to win.”

Perez signed in December, back in the halcyon days when Alex Cora was manager and Chaim Bloom said he believed Mookie Betts would remain with the team. Perez now joins a much different team.

“It’s not a good feeling when you trade Mookie,” Perez said. “Sometimes you have to work as a group. You have to stay focused and do your job.”

Perez, who turns 29 in April, has pitched parts of eight seasons in the majors and was on the playoff roster for the Rangers in 2015.

“You come in every day. You look forward and be ready when they give you the ball,” Perez said.

Let’s get it started

Pitchers and catchers have their first workout on Wednesday. The session is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Fans can enter the Fenway South complex starting at 9:30 a.m. Admission is free . . . His elbow and shoulder are fine. But Chris Sale has been sick the last few days and could miss Wednesday’s session . . . Eduardo Rodriguez is scheduled for an arbitration hearing in Phoenix on Wednesday. The lefthander is seeking $8.975 million and the Red Sox filed at $8.3 million . . . Dwight Evans, Pedro Martinez, and Jim Rice have arrived at Fenway South


Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.