Trade Candidate: Bryan Reynolds – MLB Trade Rumors

Over the past few years Bryan Reynolds’ name has come up frequently in trade talks, but as of yet no move has materialized. There’s no indication such a move will come to fruition anytime soon either, but the Pirates’ star is sure to be a regular name on the rumor mill again this winter. Indeed, Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported earlier this month that Reynolds was a popular name among GMs, but that a trade was considered unlikely.

There’s a reason Reynolds has been the target of a number of teams, he’s an elite switch-hitting outfielder, who’s shown strong power, on-base and contact skills and is under team control for three more seasons with a team in the midst of a lengthy rebuild. On the flip side, the Pirates, it seems, believe that rebuild will be complete within the next three years, so they don’t feel any need to move him. That’s not to say they wouldn’t trade him if the right offer came along, but it does mean they can set a high asking price and wait and see if any team is willing to meet it.

The Pirates are coming off a second-straight 100-loss season, but they are seeing a number of their top prospects make their way to the upper minors and big leagues. Oneil Cruz and Ke’Bryan Hayes are young building blocks, while the likes of Endy Rodriguez, Henry Davis, Liover Peguero, Quinn Priester and Michael Burrows aren’t too far away. There’s no guarantee that core can form a competitive team with Reynolds in the next few years, and Pittsburgh’s spending history suggests there’s little chance of them keeping Reynolds once he reaches free agency. As such, there’s solid arguments to be made for and against the Pirates trading their star this winter.

Reynolds, 28 in January, has amassed 12.5 fWAR since bursting onto the scene in 2019. Acquired from the Giants in the Andrew McCutchen trade, Reynolds was called up a few weeks into the 2019 campaign and never looked back. That year, he hit .314/.377/.503 with 16 home runs in 134 games, good for fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting behind Pete Alonso, Mike Soroka and Fernando Tatis Jr.

He struggled mightily in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, posting a sub-.200 batting average and a wRC+ of just 71. That season proved to be an aberration, as Reynolds returned to his best in 2021, slashing .302/.390/.522 with 24 home runs in 159 games, earning his first trip to the All Star game and finishing 11th in NL MVP voting. The key that season was a significant drop in strikeouts, as Reynolds easily posted a career best mark of 18.4%, down nine percent from a year earlier.

2022 saw an uptick in strikeouts as Reynolds punched out 23% of the time. He wound up with a .262/.345/.461 line with 27 home runs and a 125 wRC+, so it was still a very productive season but down from his best years. It’s possible Reynolds sacrificed a bit of contact for an increase in power (he hit three more home runs in 32 fewer plate appearances), but it’s also worth noting that his BABIP dropped 39 points from ’22 to ’21, and his batting average dropped an almost identical 40 points.

Defensively, Reynolds has received mixed reviews for his work in center field (10 Outs Above Average in ’21 against -7 in ’22) which is where he’s spent most of his career in Pittsburgh, but has tended to grade out much better in left field.

Reynolds is owed $6.5MM in the second year of a two-year deal signed last winter. He’ll then have two further years of arbitration remaining, before reaching free agency at the conclusion of the 2025 season.

So who could be interested? Let’s take a look at a handful of teams that could pursue Pittsburgh’s outfielder this winter, and how their farm system is looking.

  • Red Sox: Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reported that the Red Sox’ have expressed interest in Reynolds as they seek a left-handed hitting outfielder. The Red Sox currently have Alex Verdugo, Kike Hernandez and Rob Refsnyder in the outfield, with Jarren Duran as their fourth option. Baseball America ranked Boston’s farm system as the 11th best in baseball, with Marcelo Mayer, Triston Casas, Brayan Bello and Ceddanne Rafaela featuring in the top 100 overall. Both Bello and Casas have MLB experience now, but Pittsburgh would surely want any trade to start with one of those four names.
  • Yankees: The Yankees have been linked with Reynolds at various points over the past few years, and their outfield is expected to be an area of focus again this winter. Even if they re-sign Aaron Judge they may well seek a left field upgrade, but if they lose Judge the Yankees will be under pressure to make a big splash. Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza and Jasson Dominguez are the big names on the Yankees’ farm, while the Pirates may have interest in Austin Wells as a long-term first base option.
  • Marlins: The Marlins have long had interest in Reynolds, and they’re again likely to be looking for outfield additions this winter. They currently have Jon Berti, Avisail Garcia and Bryan De La Cruz in their outfield. BA ranks them 20th best in the game, with Eury Perez, one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, headlining it. Max Meyer is recovering from Tommy John surgery while Jacob Berry is the other top 100 prospect. BA notes that the system lacks depth behind the top guys so a deal may be hard to come by, but if Miami was willing to dangle Perez it’d certainly catch Pittsburgh’s attention.
  • Mariners: Seattle is another team that’s had previous interest in Reynolds. Julio Rodriguez is locked in at center and the team just acquired Teoscar Hernandez to play right, but the team could look to move on from Jarred Kelenic in left. Their farm system has already taken a big hit following a series of win-now trades by president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto, but the likes of Emerson Hancock and Harry Ford are exciting prospects, and Pittsburgh would possibly be interested in trying to unlock Kelenic’s potential.

Of course, these are just four possible options and any number of teams could be interested in a player of Reynolds’ quality. Pittsburgh will certainly have a steep asking price, but perhaps a team will blow them away with an offer this winter.

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