The Dodgers non-tendered Cody Bellinger over two weeks ago and will need to fill center field this offseason, or at the very least need to add at least one outfielder. In a case of exquisite timing, Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds made a request to be traded over the weekend right before the winter meetings.
Reynolds has been excellent offensively in three of his four major league seasons, hitting .281/.361/.481 with a 126 wRC+ to date, including .262/.345/.461 with 27 home runs and a 125 wRC+ in 2022.
An All-Star in 2021, Reynolds is in the second of his four years of salary arbitration eligibility, meaning any team acquiring him would get three years before he hits free agency. Reynolds will make $6.75 million in 2023 as part of a two-year contract signed in April.
The Pirates are under no obligation to deal Reynolds, and said so in a rare public acknowledgement of the trade request.
“While it is disappointing, this will have zero impact on our decision-making this offseason or in the future,” the team said in a statement on Saturday, per Jay Cohen of Associated Press. “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 switch-hitter, who turns 28 in January, has been well above average from both sides of the plate, with a career 130 wRC+ as a left-handed batter and 117 wRC+ while batting right-handed. You might remember Reynolds as someone who hit .292/.370/.625 with two home runs in two games in six games against the Dodgers in 2022, of which Pittsburgh won five games.
Where he fits in the outfield is in question. By Defensive Runs Saved, he was well below average (-19 runs) in center field, his primary position in the last two years. Outs Above Average had him at +11 in center in 2021 and -7 in 2022. But given the bat, which outfield position Reynolds plays is only a secondary concern.
Logic dictates the Dodgers would be interested in Reynolds, for whom the trade cost would be steep. But that’s if the Pirates — triple-digit losers the last two seasons with an MLB-worst .370 winning percentage since the start of 2020 — are even willing to trade Reynolds, who at worst is their second-best player.
- Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic made the case that the Pirates’ best option is to trade Reynolds now: “The relationship is broken. It’s over between the Pirates and Reynolds. Time to make the best trade possible, and move on.”
- How deep the Dodgers will wade into the free agent pool, and how much they will commit to young players from within in 2023 are questions pondered by Bill Plunkett at the Orange County Register in his winter meetings preview.
- We’ve looked ahead to Wednesday’s Rule 5 Draft a few times in the last week, but also notable is how relatively robust the 2022 pool of eligible players is compared to what’s expected over the next two to three years. Going from 40 rounds of the MLB Draft to only five in 2020, and moving the start of that year’s international signing period from July 2020 to January 2021 will almost certainly result in a scarcity of Rule 5-eligible players next November, writes Geoff Pontes at Baseball America.