PITTSBURGH -- The question has lingered over the last year-and-a-half: Will the Pirates trade Bryan Reynolds? In the coming weeks and months, the answer to that question might finally be yes.
Reynolds, a 2021 All-Star and one of baseball’s best offensive outfielders, has requested a trade, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.
In response to the trade request, the Pirates issued the following statement, per a club spokesperson: “While it is disappointing, this will have zero impact on our decision-making this offseason or in the future. Our goal is to improve the Pirates for 2023 and beyond. With three years 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.”
The possibility of trading Reynolds was already expected to be a topic of conversation at the Winter Meetings. With his desire for a trade now out in the open, the chatter and conversations will only further intensify.
The Pirates, of course, do not need to make a trade. Reynolds, who has the Super Two designation, inked a two-year, $13.5 million contract last April that covers him through his first two years of arbitration. Reynolds has two more arbitration years in 2024 and '25, and he would not become a free agent until 2026. That said, it is worth wondering how Reynolds might respond if he remains a Pirate for the foreseeable future despite making his aspirations known.
The trade request marks a shift in tone for Reynolds. After being named Team MVP in October, Reynolds discussed how he looked forward to growing with Pittsburgh's young core.
"It's fun to have a consistent group that you're playing with,” Reynolds said. “Like I was saying with all the young guys, I think the future's bright, so obviously I'm looking forward to next year and the years after that. I think we're going to get better.”
Additionally, when a reporter commented that Reynolds was a centerpiece of the team’s future moving forward, Reynolds commented that he “wants to be part of it.”
“Any way I can be part of it, I’ll be happy,” Reynolds said.
If the Pirates do, in fact, elect to trade Reynolds, they should be able to command a haul of prospects and young players.
Reynolds, 27, is one of the best outfielders in baseball. Through four seasons, he owns a career .281/.361/.481 slash line with a 126 wRC+. Since debuting in 2019, Reynolds ranks 11th in fWAR (12.5) and 15th in OPS (.842) among all outfielders. In '21, Reynolds started for the National League in the All-Star Game; in '22, he set a career high in home runs with 27.
“A lot of ups and downs, but overall, [I was] relatively pleased with how it came together at the end,” Reynolds said of his 2022 season.
Along with his production, Reynolds possesses potentially astronomical trade value because he still has three years of team control remaining. Should Pittsburgh deal Reynolds, the return could very easily include multiple Top 100 prospects.
Reynolds’s trade request further intensifies the Pirates’ need to add another outfielder.
Aside from Reynolds, the Pirates have seven outfielders on their 40-man roster: Jack Suwinski, Miguel Andújar, Tucupita Marcano, Cal Mitchell, Canaan Smith-Njigba, Travis Swaggerty and Ryan Vilade. Reynolds and Suwinski are projected to start in center field and left field, respectively, with right field being a question mark. With Reynolds’s future with the organization uncertain, Pittsburgh can use the Winter Meetings to develop a contingency plan in the outfield should a trade materialize.