Kevin Pillar
Kevin PillarReuters

The San Francisco Giants on Tuesday acquired Jewish outfielder Kevin Pillar from the Toronto Blue Jays in a trade that sent infielder Alen Hanson, relief pitcher Derek Law and a minor league player to Toronto.

Pillar, 30, has been a steady offensive player throughout his career with the Blue Jays launched in 2013. Last season the righty swinger sported a .260 batting average with 15 home runs and a career-high 59 runs batted in. But Pillar has been better known for his defensive prowess, earning recognition as being among the top center fielders in the game.

The Giants have been searching for outfield help since late in spring training.

Speaking to reporters in Toronto after the trade, Pillar got emotional when asked about no longer being a part of the organization that drafted him.

“It’s all I’ve ever known. You spend a lot of time here, more time here than you do in your home in the offseason. I spend more time with people here than I do with my own family. That part of it is hard,” he told Sportsnet while holding back tears.

Pillar, a Southern California native, had a bar mitzvah as a teen, and while playing in Toronto he addressed 500 young Jewish athletes at a Maccabi Canada event.

In a 2016 interview with Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent, Pillar spoke of the importance of Jewish kids having athletes they can look up to.

“I know they’re proud and watching and support me,” he said. “That’s the special part because there are not a lot of Jewish players. I just like being that role model for the kid who believes he can’t play a professional sport. I’ve become that for them.”

On June 8 of last year, Pillar was part of the most productive day for Jewish batters in Major League Baseball history, when five Jewish players combined for six home runs to help their respective teams to victory.

That night, Pillar hit his sixth homer of the year and third in seven games in a 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles. His eighth-inning solo shot gave the Blue Jays their final run. Danny Valencia, the third baseman for the O’s that night, was the only Jewish position player not to hit one out on Friday.

JTA contributed to this report.