Hot Stove Hype: Can Mariners finally pull off a Bryan Reynolds trade?

Dec 7, 2022, 12:24 AM

Bryan Reynolds Mariners offseason...

Bryan Reynolds of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 27, 2022. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Possible names for the Mariners to target this offseason are coming off the board a bit quicker with the MLB winter meetings taking place this week in San Diego, but a new name appeared just before the festivities began.

Salk: Options for the Mariners to complete their outfield

All-Star outfielder Bryan Reynolds has asked the Pittsburgh Pirates for a trade, reigniting rumors around a player the Mariners were reported to have been interested in a few seasons ago.

Following the latest news on Reynolds, it only made sense for Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob to check in with a Pirates reporter for an edition of their Mariners Hot Stove Hype segment.

Here’s a close look at what they found out about Reynolds and his status from talking Tuesday to Jason Mackey, Pirates beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The situation in Pittsburgh

The Pirates are notorious for running a low payroll, with Reynolds one of only three players currently on their roster set to make more than $3.5 million in 2023. And while Mackey said he wasn’t expecting Reynolds to ask for a trade, he can see why Reynolds did after having a chance to look into things.

“I understand learning more about the situation why he did it, why it makes sense for him and his camp,” Mackey told hosts Dave Wyman and Bob Stelton. “And basically it’s a mechanism to try and get the contract that they feel like they’re not going to get in Pittsburgh.”

Reynolds, who is set to make $6.75 million next season per Spotrac, still has three years of arbitration left on his contract before hitting free agency. He will be 28 by the start of the 2023 campaign, and according to Mackey, he had negotiations with the Pirates about an extension that didn’t go the direction the switch-hitter was hoping for.

“Reynolds’ ask was fairly substantial in terms of years and dollars – I can’t give exact numbers – and the Pirates’ offer was actually semi-respectable but it was still pretty far away,” Mackey said. “He’s most tradable with years of club control, which he still has – he’s under contract to 2025. … Ahead of the winter meetings, I understand why he sort of pulled the ripcord and why they did it now.”

While the Pirates are trying to put a young nucleus together like the Mariners have, Reynolds may be just a little bit older than makes sense for Pittsburgh to build around.

“They’re trying to do things differently, and I give them credit, they’re trying to do things the way they can most reliably succeed and that’s by taking a homegrown approach and prioritizing prospects,” Mackey said. “I do think they’re gonna take a couple steps forward this year. They’ve lost 100 games in back-to-back years, they were at a 100-loss pace in 2020. They haven’t been very good, they haven’t been very talented, and they’ve got a pretty decent farm system with some of those kids coming up. It is a bit of a tricky spot, though. Linking this to Reynolds, when he’s going to be a free agent, when he’s going to be through Arb-3 (third year of arbitration), Arb-4, that sort of thing, it doesn’t necessarily line up with the Pirates’ window of competition.”

What Reynolds is like

Reynolds is a popular player in Pittsburgh, and it’s not hard to see why.

First of all, he’s very productive at the plate, in the field and on the bases. He had a phenomenal 2021 season, slashing .302/.390/.522 for a .912 OPS with 24 home runs, 35 doubles, 90 RBIs and an MLB-leading eight triples. His offensive numbers dipped in 2022, but he still had a .262/.345/.461 slash for an .807 OPS with 27 homers. He doesn’t steal a ton of bases but ranked in the 75th percentile in sprint speed last season, and he is a capable outfielder with a strong arm.

Pirates fans don’t want to see him go, and Mackey said he personally finds the Vanderbilt product easy to get along with.

“How (the news of Reynolds’ trade request) was received, (Pirates fans) really like watching Bryan Reynolds. He’s a fun player,” Mackey said. “Very steady in center field. I have really enjoyed my interactions with him over the years as a beat writer. He’s got a sneaky sense of humor. He’s quiet, he’s got this southern drawl… He’s really quick-witted, he’s available, he doesn’t say much. But you know, he has some good lines now and then, he’ll bounce around the clubhouse and joke around with people. … He treats people decently. Like, if I’m if I’m playing Major League Baseball, he is 100% the type of guy I want in my clubhouse.”

While Mackey doesn’t see Reynolds as having the kind of personality that would thrive in a bigger city like New York, he thinks that despite coming from a small market like Pittsburgh, he’d fit in wherever he goes.

“I’ve seen a lot of Reynolds and I have not seen that man change one bit. Like, he does not care. He’s just gonna be himself,” he said.

If there’s one thing to be wary about with Reynolds, though, Mackey pointed to a period last season where he struggled with chasing pitches out of the strike zone.

“When he struggles he has a tendency to really chase, and we saw that at the beginning of beginning of 2022. He went through a two-month stretch (where) he was horrible. I mean, just horrible. His plate discipline, I swore I was watching a different hitter. And then all of a sudden, like the calendar flips… he one day randomly decided to shave his head and I don’t know if the bad juju went away or something like that and he just sort of chilled out and started to look like the Bryan Reynolds of old, started to hit a few more home runs and settle down.”

What it would take to make a trade

Despite the Pirates saying Reynolds’ trade request will have “zero impact” on their decision making this offseason, Mackey said he expects Reynolds to be in a new uniform for 2023.

“In conversations with people here, I have yet to talk to somebody who legitimately thinks he’s going to stick with the Pirates. Even people with the Pirates are thinking like, ‘Yeah, I mean, there’s no way we can ride this out.’ They put out the statement right after news broke that he wanted to be traded, but you sort of have to do that, right? You’re just playing defense, you’re trying to make it seem like you’re not going to let him get away for nothing. I just don’t know how you can continue down this road.”

The big question for the Mariners and any other team that may be interested in Reynolds is what a trade for him would cost, and based on Mackey’s response to that, it seems Seattle does have the pieces that would fit the bill.

“What it takes to get him? Multiple MLB players,” Mackey said. “The Pirates in the past have sort of prioritized volume. They’ve gotten four- and five-player deals, guys at lower levels for (pitchers) Joe Musgrove, Jameson Taillon, and those deals worked at the time. I don’t think that’s what they’re going to be targeting this time. I mean, they’re going to be targeting I would say probably two major league-ready players and a prospect. I don’t know if that’s what they’ll get. They’d like to add pitching, they’d like to add an outfielder, (and) I think the prospect can kind of be anything.

“The price is going to be steep, we certainly know that. I think there are going to be several bidders for him. The Pirates can get themselves a legitimate major league outfielder who’s probably pre-(arbitration). If they can get a starter who is at least capable of competing for starts and plus, like, a flyer down the road, I think it can make sense for them.”

You can listen to the full conversation with Mackey in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

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Hot Stove Hype: Can Mariners finally pull off a Bryan Reynolds trade?