Pirates outfield status Bryan Reynolds is one of the best storylines of the second half of the offseason. Trade rumors surrounding the former All-Star are nothing new and they surfaced again last month once Reynolds asked the club to trade him.
The trade request came after long-term extension talks between his side and the Pirates broke down. The precise numbers under discussion at the time are unclear, although Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported the club submitted an offer that would have exceeded the franchise-record $70 million guarantee that Ke’Bryan Hayes had obtained last spring. Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette shed some light on the talks in a snail mail this week, reporting that Pittsburgh’s offer was about $50 million less than what Reynolds and his representatives at the CAA had asked.
That would set a floor of around $120 million for Reynolds’ asking price, though it’s possible his side were aiming higher than that. It’s unclear how far above $70 million the Bucs have offered. Mackey writes that Pittsburgh’s proposal involved fewer seasons than the eight years Hayes received, although Reynolds would obviously have attracted more on an annual basis. That’s no surprise given that Reynolds now has two more years of major league service than Hayes at the time of his contract.
Reynolds, who turns 28 later this month, has between three and four years of major league service. He’s under contract for $6.75 million next season in what would have been his second year officiating. Absent a long-term deal, he will go through the arbitration process two more times before becoming a free agent in the 2025-26 offseason.
Six players in this service segment have signed extensions exceeding $70 million, with Sean Murphy join this club last week. Only two players in the 3-4 service class have reached $120 million, with Freddie Freeman holding the record for his $135 million contract with the Braves in the 2013-14 offseason. Freeman was nearly four years younger at the time of his contract than Reynolds is now and is coming off a .319/.396/.501 performance in 2013 that rivals Reynolds’ career-best season from 2021.
Given the age gap, one could certainly argue that Freeman was a better long-term bet than Reynolds, although it also wouldn’t be surprising if the latter’s side wanted to approach or beat that precedent. . After all, the Freeman extension is now almost nine years old. Matt Olson landed an eight-year, $168 million extension with the Braves entering his 28-year-old season last year. Olson was a year closer to free agency and was coming off a 0.271/0.371/0.540 showing Reynolds had topped the 0.262/0.345/0.461 mark from 2022. Reynolds looks unlikely to reach the highs achieved by Olson for those reasons, but this more recent deal lends credence to the idea that the Pittsburgh outfielder had a case for easily hitting nine figures.
It seems mostly moot as long as Reynolds remains a pirate. There are no signs that the parties plan to re-commit to a possible long-term deal after talks broke down. However, it is at least possible that another club could trade a deal for the center fielder and then look to reopen extension talks.
Pittsburgh maintained that they were not considering giving up a very high asking price in trade talks, despite Reynolds’ request. Vanderbilt product has no recourse to force an exchange. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi suggested late last month, Pittsburgh was targeting a high-end launch prospect at the center of potential business packages. It’s hard to imagine they would be rigid require a deal being built around a young arm, though it serves at least as a final reaffirmation. GM Ben Cherington and his front office continue to aim high.
Still, Mackey suggests there’s a good chance the Bucs will pull the trigger on a Reynolds trade at some point in 2023. Pittsburgh is still in the midst of rebuilding, and Reynolds is their most attractive trade candidate. They are not under much financial pressure to move, although there is certainly a case for the club to take offers seriously both this off-season and at the deadline next summer – particularly now that hopefuls of an extension seem to have evaporated. Assuming he has another productive season, Reynolds would still have ample trade value going into the next offseason, although Pittsburgh is unlikely to find much stronger interest than there will be over the course of the season. of the next few months, given that his window of control of the club will only shrink.