The Pirates have been surrounded by trade rumors involving star center fielder Bryan Reynolds since the last trade deadline. This offseason, the Miami Marlins have discussed Reynolds with the Pirates, as outlined by Barry Jackson and Craig Mish of the Miami Herald.
It seems unlikely at this point that a Reynolds deal would be made. The Pirates and Reynolds aren’t discussing a contract extension right now, but Reynolds has four seasons of control remaining, and will make under $5 million this year. There’s not a lot of incentive for the Pirates to sign him right away.
The problem I see with a Reynolds trade right now is perfectly displayed with the Miami rumors. The Marlins weren’t inclined to include top prospects Khalil Watson and Max Meyer, who were first round picks in each of the last two years. The Marlins have good representation of prospects at the top of their system. Both Watson and Meyer are top 100 prospects, but the Marlins would still have three if they deal both players.
If we use the new Rankings page as a guide, Watson and Meyer would rank 3rd and 4th in the system, around the mid point between Henry Davis/Oneil Cruz and Nick Gonzales/Liover Peguero, with Roansy Contreras/Quinn Priester right behind those two. Watson/Meyer would be icing on the cake of an amazing system. But this is hardly a need for the Pirates.
The Pirates have two prospects better than Watson/Meyer, and four more who aren’t much worse. They also have a massive group of depth prospects, with plenty of breakout potential to add to the top 100 prospect group without having to trade their best MLB player.
What’s more, a lot of those prospects are set to arrive in the majors in the next year or two. The Pirates have Reynolds under control through 2025. With the right moves, they could try to contend with him in 2023-2024, deal him with one year of control remaining, and hopefully end up with one prospect who could be a top 100 guy.
The Pirates would only have Reynolds on a contender for two years — assuming they could start contending in 2023. However, with an influx of prospects, and plenty of money to spend on free agents to get to a respectable payroll, I could see it happening.
If Reynolds were to be traded, the rebuild becomes more difficult. All of those prospects arrive in the next year to join a team led by Reynolds. If Reynolds is moved, the system now has to replace him, and build around that replacement. It would make sense to try and land a massive prospect return in that case.
I think we can all be adults here and concede that the Pirates aren’t going to do much in 2022, outside of an extremely surprising wild card run fueled by the farm system and some shrewd free agent moves. The question is: When do they plan on trying to contend?
What message does it say if you’re trading 5+ WAR players with 4 years of control remaining?
And with an already loaded farm system, how big does the return have to be in order to be felt and justify trading the biggest guy you could immediately build around?
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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.