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What it Might Take for the Pirates to Extend Bryan Reynolds

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When Bryan Reynolds made his Major League debut for the Pirates on April 20, 2019, he quickly emerged as an impactful everyday outfielder. That year, he hit his way to an .880 OPS, a 130 wRC+ and finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year race.

2020, however, did not go nearly as swimmingly for Reynolds. In the wild and wacky year that was, Reynolds hit just .189 with a .632 OPS and just a 72 wRC+. In the abbreviated season, Reynolds played in 55 of the possible 60 games, but did not look like what anyone was expecting after his impressive rookie campaign.

After an offseason of adjustments at the plate, Reynolds has looked every bit of the player he was during his rookie year – and more. In a year where so much has gone wrong for the Pirates, so much has gone right for Reynolds. He finds himself in the Top 10 in the National League in many categories – average, on-base percentage, slugging, runs created to name a few. He ranks second among all NL players in offensive WAR, trailing only Fernando Tatis Jr.

Here he is hitting his 20th home run of the season yesterday:

Despite interest in him during last month’s trading deadline, insider Ken Rosenthal said that the team intends to build around Reynolds.

Reynolds is under club control through 2025. He will go through his first year of arbitration this offseason as a Super 2 player, and three more arbitration years after that before hitting free agency.

So, what might it take to keep Reynolds in Pittsburgh even beyond 2025?

Before diving into it, let’s make a couple of assumptions. First, let’s assume that Reynolds will remain on the active roster for the rest of the season.  That would put him at 2.163 years of service at season’s end. Let’s also assume he continues his current pace, which would give him a career fWAR of about 9.0. Additionally just to note, Reynolds will turn 27 in January.

Here are a couple extensions from the past to which we can draw some parallels.

Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies. Extension details: 7 years $80M

  • Date of Extension: 1/11/2011
  • Service time at extension: 2.059
  • Career fWAR at extension: 8.7
  • Age at extension: 25
  • Years covered: One pre-arb year, three arb years, three free agent years
  • Notes: This is by far the richest of the three extensions we will examine, Gonzalez was not super two like Reynolds is

Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates. Extension details: 6 years $51.5M + $14.75M club option

  • Date of extension: 3/4/2012
  • Service time at extension: 2.123
  • Career fWAR at extension: 12.2
  • Age at extension: 25
  • Years covered: One pre-arb year, three arb years, two free agent years + option for third
  • Notes: Eerily similar to the current discussion – Pirates’ centerfielder with similar service just about a decade later, Cutch was also not super two like Reynolds

Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays. Extension details: 6 years $53.5M + $13M club option

  • Date of extension: 3/14/2017
  • Service time at extension: 2.131
  • Career fWAR at extension: 11.1 WAR
  • Age at extension: 26
  • Years covered: 4 arb years, 2 free agent years, option for third
  • Notes: Most current of the three extensions, Super two

Based off of service time, age and fWAR, these are three of the most similar extensions regarding Reynolds’ situation.

While all three draw good parallels, Kiermaier’s is probably the best overall reference for a potential Reynolds extension. No only was Kieramier going into his age 27 season like Reynolds will be in 2022, but he was also super two, so he had four arbitration years just like Reynolds.

General Manager Ben Cherington has said that there are players on the current roster that they view as part of the team’s future. If the Pirates decide to have extension talks with Reynolds this offseason, keep these three past extensions in mind to get an idea of the potential framework of a deal.

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