Despite Reynolds uncertainty, Bucs building for '23

December 6th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Bryan Reynolds’ trade request ahead of the Winter Meetings sent ripples throughout the baseball atmosphere. The news caught many by surprise, but general manager Ben Cherington and Pittsburgh’s front-office brass had already prepared for the eventuality.

“Not long ago, we anticipated this may be something that happens as we head into the Winter Meetings in the way that it did,” Cherington said. “It sort of is what it is. Someone felt like there was an advantage to doing that. I can’t speak to that. That’s someone else’s action. We’re focused on what we’re doing here, and [we] feel good about that.”

Reynolds’ trade request puts the organization in a bind. The Pirates, who released a statement noting that the request “will have zero impact on our decision-making this off-season or in the future,” will have to navigate the offseason with Reynolds’ desire to play elsewhere out in the open. The request’s public nature could affect the clubhouse atmosphere if Reynolds remains in Pittsburgh, but Cherington and manager Derek Shelton expressed confidence that Reynolds will continue to go about his business professionally.

“I don’t think that anything is going to affect the way Bryan Reynolds is as a player, the way he is in the clubhouse,” Shelton said. “He’s such a good human being that I don’t think any of this stuff will affect our clubhouse at all.”

“Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, typically,” Cherington said. “We just look at the track record and how he’s played the game throughout his life and career. We have full trust in him.”

Shelton added that he would like the organization’s young players to observe Reynolds’ playing style, praising how the All-Star’s aggressiveness and max-effort approach exemplify the winning culture the team is working to build. 

“Our expectation is that Bryan Reynolds is going to be who Bryan Reynolds is on the field. We’ve talked continuously about the way he plays the game and the effort he gives,” Shelton said. “In my conversations with him, I don’t think that’s going to change. The business side, we will let be handled. But my expectation is Bryan Reynolds will continue to be the player that he is.”

If the Pirates keep Reynolds, the two parties will likely have to address their relationship, which has unquestionably changed in the last several days. For now, however, Cherington said the team will focus its attention on assembling next season’s roster.

“[Reynolds’ trade request] is just not something we’re thinking about right now,” he said. “We’re thinking about the offseason, what do we want to do. When we get to Spring Training, it’s more the opportunity to think about how we want to come together as a group inside that room. So we’ll turn our focus to that at that point."

Prior to Reynolds' request going public, Pittsburgh's offseason had been defined by its additions. Cherington has repeatedly talked about a desire to add to the current team. After trading for and signing Carlos Santana, Cherington said, “there’s more we’d like to do.” On Monday, he explained why the Pirates have been more proactive about adding to their roster than during previous offseasons.

“We felt like coming out of this season, as difficult as it was, we now have a group of young players that have matriculated onto the Major League team, or started to, or are close to doing that as we look into next year,” he said. “So relative to two years ago, the total number of players who are either touching our Major League roster or are getting close, we just see as much larger. We just feel like this is the time to start to complement that group.”

Two players who are close to the Major Leagues are catcher Henry Davis and catcher/outfielder Endy Rodriguez, respectively the organization’s No. 1 and No. 6 prospects per MLB Pipeline. Both have the potential to debut in the big leagues next season, but Shelton revealed that neither will begin the year in the Majors.

“Well, with those two guys specifically, they’re going to start in the Minor Leagues,” he said.

Rodriguez, 22, is the only catcher on the team’s 40-man roster. Cherington pointed out that remains in the organization after being outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis in November. With Rodriguez and Davis out of the mix for Opening Day, the Pirates could fill their need behind the plate by signing a veteran catcher, with Delay taking on a backup role.