As of now, five weeks before spring training, the industry consensus is that the Pirates will not trade Bryan Reynolds.
Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported Friday that Pittsburgh had been “unrealistic” in its asking price involving a trade for Reynolds. Despite requesting a trade in December, Reynolds looks likely to start the season in a Bucs uniform. But if the Pirates front office lowered the price, should the Blue Jays be interested in trading for Reynolds?
Let’s look at this question from a few angles.
Blue Jays roster matches Reynolds
A man of Reynolds talent would instantly improve any lineup, but how well does he fit into a Blue Jays positional core that has revamped its outfield this season?
For starters, his switch profile makes him more desirable for Toronto. The Jays’ current outfield group, left to right, includes Daulton Varsho (L), Kevin Kiermaier (L) and George Springer (R) could use a squad buddy. Sure, Reynolds is way better than an average squad hitter, but he would need to share space with these guys somehow.
Kiermaier (.661 OPS) and Varsho (.615 OPS) both struggle against left-handed pitchers. Reynolds, though a switch hitter, is superior against RHP (.856 OPS) over LHP (.808 OPS), but only by a narrow margin. The fact that Reynolds isn’t a bona fide leftist killer makes him an awkward fit. Unless the Blue Jays condemn Kiermaier to a full-time fourth outfield role — which is unlikely given his public comments about playing time — or frequently sit Varsho against left-handers, there will be too many mouths to feed.
Defensively, he adapts. Reynolds can play all four outfield spots very well (he was worth 14 outs over the average from 2019 to 2021, then fell to minus-7 OAA in 2022, which is strange) and brings superior speed to the medium. It would fit in with Toronto’s new “Death to Flying Things” philosophy.
The Blue Jays are not really need Reynolds and his .842 OPS career, although he would be a nice addition. Club assets are best allocated to a marginal pack hitter, like AJ Pollock or Adam Duvall, and cost is the primary factor in that equation. If the price on Reynolds remains exorbitant, then Toronto is out. But, again, for fun, let’s see what an exchange might cost.
The cost of acquisition for Reynolds
Just before Christmas, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported that a trade for Reynolds would require a starting prospect like Ricky Tiedemann to satisfy the Pirates’ needs. If the price is as astronomical as baseball gossip suggests, we’d assume Tiedemann would be the starting point for a trade for Reynolds.
At this point, you are facing a fork in the road. I imagine the Blue Jays front office is okay with bringing Tiedemann and Orelvis Martinez together, for example, but it would have to be a logical return. Would the Jays want to put their two best prospects on the line for Reynolds, a 27-year-old All-Star with years of control?
The timing would sync up. Reynolds is under team control through 2025 (although he’s pushing for an immediate extension), and Kiermaier could likely be unique to Toronto, so the 2024 outfield could feature Reynolds on the left, Varsho moving to center and Springer into right field. It’s damn good.
Tiedemann is key here (Martinez hit for power shots in the minors last year but didn’t show enough patience on the flat). Last year, the 20-year-old southpaw went from A Ball to Double A, maintaining top stats at every level. If Toronto moved Tiedemann now, they might seriously regret the move (there’s a chance Tiedemann will help at the major league level this season), especially since the depth of the club’s throwing prospects isn’t very strong beyond 2022 first-round pick Brandon Barriera.
Any trade from the Blue Jays to Reynolds hinges on the “always trade prospects” mentality. Basically, you never know how a guy projects, so it’s best to trade him while his stock is high. With Tiedemann, it’s easy to see (numbers, eye test, etc.) that he shattered early expectations. Trading it would sting. I don’t do that if I’m in Toronto.
Ultimately, there may be some middle ground — a Martinez-plus-plus prospect deal could work — but with the current asking price where he is, a Reynolds-centric Blue Jays-Pirates trade won’t. doesn’t seem worth it on the Toronto side.