MLB

Pirates’ Bryan Reynolds makes rare MLB trade request as All-Star asks out of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star outfielder Bryan Reynolds has requested a trade, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The New York Post reports contract extension talks between the Pirates and Reynolds are at an “impasse,” leading to the trade request.

The Pirates released the following statement about Reynolds’ trade request (per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette):

“While it is disappointing, this will have zero impact on our decision-making this off-season 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.”

It must be noted there is no official mechanism in place for players to request a trade, and the Pirates are under no obligation to trade Reynolds. And even if they do plan to honor his request, they don’t have to rush into anything and can let the market play out. That said, keeping a player who has requested a trade can lead to an awkward situation for everyone involved, including fans. 

Unlike the NBA, NFL, and NHL, trade requests in MLB are very rare. Former New York Yankees third baseman Miguel Andújar, coincidentally now with the Pirates, requested a trade last year. Colorado Rockies chairman Dick Monfort implied Nolan Arenado requested a trade in Feb. 2021, though Arenado has never confirmed the trade request himself.

“It was Nolan’s choice. He wanted to move on. He just felt it was time for him to try something else out,” Monfort told reporters after Arenado was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. “… We honored what Nolan wanted to do and we made what we thought was the best thing we could do at the time.”   

Reynolds, 28 in January, originally joined the Pirates as a prospect in the Andrew McCutchen trade with the San Francisco Giants. He made his MLB debut in April 2019 and is a career .281/.361/.481 hitter who has averaged 24 home runs and 4.5 WAR per 162 games in his career. A switch-hitter with good defense will be in very high demand and has been in demand the last few years.

Furthermore, Reynolds comes with three years of control. He is owed a $6.75 million salary in 2023 and will be eligible for arbitration in 2024 and 2025. Reynolds is excellent, affordable, and a long-term addition. He appeals to both win-now teams and teams that are still transitioning out of a rebuild and into contention. The Pirates can and will demand a large return.

At the 2021 trade deadline the Pirates reportedly requested Julio Rodríguez, then a minor leaguer, in Reynolds trade talks with the Seattle Mariners. The Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres, and Yankees are known to have had trade interest in Reynolds in the past. I would expect the other 29 teams to check in about Reynolds this offseason. He’s that good.

The case can be made trading Reynolds now would be the smart move anyway. The Pirates lost 100 games a year ago and appear to be at least another year away from contention. By time Pittsburgh is ready to return to the postseason, Reynolds will be nearing free agency and approaching 30. His prime doesn’t line up with the club’s next competitive window all that well.

Also, the Pirates are deep in outfielders, with prospects Cal Mitchell, Canaan Smith-Njigba, Jack Suwinski, and Travis Swaggerty all debuting in 2022. Outfielder Ryan Vilade was claimed off waivers from the Rockies earlier this offseason as well. Some of those outfielders are more highly regarded than others, but Pittsburgh was likely to trade from their outfield depth this winter anyway.

MLB’s annual Winter Meetings begin Sunday in San Diego. The Winter Meetings are typically the busiest week of the offseason and Reynolds’ trade request will undoubtedly be a hot topic. 



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