Bryan Reynolds: I ‘haven’t heard anything’ from Pirates about the expansion
The Pirates probably won’t make too many headlines in free agency once the lockdown lifts, but the majority of Pittsburgh fans are hoping they make another notable deal: a long-term deal for All-Star outfielder Bryan Reynolds. Likewise, fans of nearly every outfield needy club in the league are hoping the Pirates will move 27-year-old Reynolds in exchange for what could be a major crop of potential talent. It’s not a proposition either way, because Pittsburgh could just hang on to Reynolds and control him for another four years through arbitration, even without an extension. Whatever path the team is considering, Reynolds himself tells Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he “heard nothing” about his future from the team before MLB halted major league trades and blocked players from communicating with their teams .
Reynolds was at the center of the 2021 trade deadline, apparently attracting major offers Braves and Brewers. Seamen, marlins and The Yankees have also shown interest in Reynolds, and his market no doubt extends a bit further than that handful of publicly known suitors.
It’s no surprise that Reynolds has become such a coveted player. It followed a rookie-of-the-year-caliber 2019 season with a tough campaign in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but Reynolds bounced back better than ever in 2021 and made that 2020 downturn an aberration. Reynolds played three seasons in the majors and in the two full campaigns shot better than .300 with an OBP of nearly .400 and well above average power. He made his first All-Star team in 2021 – a season that saw him finish the year with a solid .302/.390/.522 batting line. Reynolds hit a career-high 24 longballs, racked up 35 doubles and also recorded a career-high (and league-leading) eight triples. Overall, the batter owns a .290/.368/.490 line in 1,400 plate appearances.
Defensively, Reynolds has emerged as the Pirates’ main centre-back, but publicly available metrics provide lukewarm reviews of his glove work there. He recorded +2 Outs Above Average last season, per Statcast, but Reynolds also recorded with -5 Defensive Runs Saved and a -5 Ultimate Zone Rating. His overall defense in the center is close to average considering his entire career, but it’s also worth noting that Reynolds has 10 defensive points recorded in the corners. Eye test-based scouting reports surely provide a similar range of opinions, but anyone is unlikely to see Reynolds as a major liability with the glove.
Reynolds is vetted through the 2025 season but will reach refereeing as a Super Two player this year, as he enters the season with two years and 163 days of service time (just nine days shy in this rookie season to reach a full year). It is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn a salary of $4.5 million for the upcoming season, and he’ll be in line for three more raises based on that first umpire salary.
Historically speaking, there is a wide range of possible extension outcomes for players with between two and three years of MLB service time. Mike Trout (six years, $144 million) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (14, $341 million) are clear outliers who shouldn’t enter the conversation when trying to assess a theoretical price for Reynolds, but as seen in MLBTR Extension Tracker, there have been quite a few outfielders who signed long-term in this service bracket – including a few who were Super Two players themselves.
In 2015-16, it was common for outfielders in this position to sign in the $25 rangeM-$30M over a five-year period, as evidenced by the agreements Adam Eaton, Ender Inciarte and Odubel Herrera. All of these offers included at least one club option. from minnesota Max Kepler moved the needle one step further with his 2019 extension – a five-year contract worth a guaranteed $35 million, plus a club option for a sixth season. Kepler, like Reynolds, was a Super Two player, and his projected salary of $3.2 million for 2019 was a bit lower than Reynolds’. Kepler’s deal paid him $25.5 million for his four officiating seasons, guaranteed him $9.5 million for a year as a free agent, and also gave the Twins a $10 million option. dollars for a sixth season. Reynolds has a superior record at this point in his career, so it seems fair to expect him to overturn that Kepler mark a bit.
The other comparable potential for Reynolds, and the one his CAA reps probably prefer as a goal to top, is the six-year, $53.5 million deal signed by Kevin Kiermaier. in 2017. Kiermaier was also a Super Two centre-back with above-average power. His defensive accolades had already started piling up — Kiermaier won gold gloves in 2015-16 and a platinum glove in 2015 — but he hadn’t achieved the same level of offensive impact as Reynolds. He had 1,313 career plateau appearances at the time of his overtime and possessed a .258/.313/.425 line that is a little short of Reynolds’ career numbers. There’s also the simple fact that Kiermaier’s deal — which paid him $27.5 million for his officiating years, bought two free agent campaigns for a total of $26 million, and contained a $13 million club option for a seventh season – is now five years old, making for a somewhat dated point of comparison.
The possibility of a long-term deal for Reynolds is complicated by the Pirates’ organizational spending habits. The Bucs have remarkably never passed a $60 million guarantee on any player, and that contract was handed over to Jason Kendall over two decades ago. Even given the Pirates’ consistent low-spending habits, the long-term financial outlook is wide open. They don’t have a single dollar committed beyond next season, and Reynolds is the only player on the roster who would likely command a large arbitration payout in 2023. There appears to be an opportunity for the Pirates to build around Reynolds as a franchise player, but it might require the biggest outlay the organization has made – at least since Bob Nutting took over primary ownership of the franchise in 2007.
Much of the fanbase would be supportive of such a move, with Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes expected to be part of a long-term core for the Pirates as they pursue a massive rebuild. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote over the summer that the Bucs weren’t keen on trading Reynolds, but “(having) the intention of building around him.” This could lead to opening talks from the front office whenever they are allowed to make MLB transactions again, but that process apparently hasn’t begun yet.