Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds has requested a trade, according to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Jon Heyman of the New York Post adds that extension talks between Reynolds and the Pirates had reached an “impasse”, and that caused Reynolds to request the trade. He says the Pirates still have no intention of trading him. The Bucs have since released a statement on the trade request:
“While it is disappointing, this will have zero impact on our decision-making this off-season or in the future. Our goal is to improve the Pirates for 2023 and beyond. With three years remaining until he hits free agency, Bryan remains a key member of our team. We look forward to him having a great season for the Pirates.”
Reynolds has long been a sought-after trade candidate around the game. He’s a young, controllable player performing at an elite level, while the Pirates have been in the depths of a lengthy rebuild. Pittsburgh has rebuffed trade interest though, instead preferring to keep Reynolds around as they look to return to contention while he is under club control.
Reynolds is set to earn $6.75MM this season in the second year of a two-year, $13MM arbitration extension. He’ll then be under club control for a further two seasons via arbitration before becoming eligible for free agency after the 2025 season.
The 27-year-old experienced a slight dip in offensive production in 2022, but still put together a very strong season, slashing .262/.345/.461 with 27 home runs, worth 2.9 bWAR. It was the highest home run total he’d produced in his four seasons in the big leagues, but also came with an increase in strikeouts.
A second-round pick by the Giants back in 2016, Reynolds went to the Pirates in the 2018 Andrew McCutchen deal. He made his debut a season later, slashing .314/.377/.503 with 16 home runs in 134 games. In another year, that could well have been enough to earn a Rookie of the Year award, but the presence of Pete Alonso, Mike Soroka and Fernando Tatis Jr. meant he finished fourth in the National League.
He experienced quite the sophomore slump, hitting just .189/.275/.357 in 55 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season but rebounded with his best season yet in 2021. That year he batted .302/.390/.522 with 24 home runs, earning his first All Star game nod and finishing 11th in NL MVP voting. He also posted career best strikeout (18.4%) and walk (11.6%) rates that year.
On the defensive side, Reynolds has spent most of his time in either left or center field. He spent the bulk of 2021-22 in center, logging a combined 2,196 2/3 innings to mixed reviews. Outs Above Average had him worth ten in ’21 but -7 in ’22, while Defensive Runs Saved pegged him for -5 in ’21 and -14 this season. Nonetheless, he does grade out better in left, where he was worth a total of 7 DRS across 931 2/3 innings between 2019-20.
While the offensive production did dip in 2022, the overall package of work combined with the remaining years of club control means there will be no shortage of suitors. MLBTR had a look at Reynolds as a trade candidate (a title he’s seemingly held for almost three years) just a week ago. Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Blue Jays have interest in Reynolds, while a number of teams, including the Mariners, Yankees and Marlins have previously held interest.
From the Pirates point of view, it’s not especially surprising to hear them say they are planning to have him back in 2023. They’re hardly likely to weaken their negotiating position further by publicly stating they’re trading him. Their asking price has always been sky high (the Seattle Times reported that their asking price at the ’21 deadline started with Julio Rodriguez), and they’ll surely be looking for a big haul of young players again.
There’s always been a bit of debate as to whether the Pirates should trade Reynolds or not. As a notoriously low-spending club, they were hardly likely to keep beyond his club control, but the Bucs’ rebuild is beginning to show signs of life and it’s not unthinkable that they’re in a position to contend in the NL Central by 2024-25. Whether they do trade him or not, the news has certainly added an extra layer as agents and front office staff descend on San Diego for the start of the Winter Meetings tomorrow.
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