PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Pirates fans certainly have every reason to rejoice.
The Pirates have signed outfielder Bryan Reynolds to an eight-year $106.75M deal. The contract was announced by the club on Wednesday.
It’s a great time to be a Pirates fan, which is something I haven’t been able to type for a long time. Not only have the Pirates signed Reynolds but the deal comes a little more than a year after the third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes was signed to an eight-year, $70-million contract.
The Pirates are showing a commitment to keep at least some of their core players for the long haul.
Just as important, the Pirates are winning. Despite blowing a five-run lead and losing 8-7 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night, the Pirates have the second-best record in the major leagues at 16-8 behind only the Tampa Bay Rays (20-4).
However, those fans rejoicing could be the same ones complaining about Reynolds’ contract by the end of the decade.
The guaranteed part of the contract runs through the 2030 season and the Pirates hold an option year in 2031. Reynolds will be 35 years old when the ’30 season begins.
Reynolds will also be making $15 million in 2030. There is a chance he won’t provide as much value at that point.
To be clear, this has nothing to do with Reynolds’ attitude or character. It is hard to imagine him coasting now just because he has become a wealthy man. Laziness and complacency do not seem part of his DNA.
Reynolds is a professional through and through. That professionalism has shone through since his first day in the major leagues in 2019.
However, Father Time catches up to everyone at some point. Well, except maybe for Pirates left-hander Rich Hill, who seems intent on pitching until he is 50.
Thus, it is reasonable to think that Reynolds’ skills will experience at least some erosion by the time 2030 rolls around. He probably won’t be hitting .300 or belting 30 home runs.
So, if you are cheering the contract now, it would not be fair to complain about it later. The way long-term baseball contracts work is that a player gets paid big money during the backend of his career after not making nearly as much on the frontend when he wasn’t eligible for salary arbitration and has limited earning power.
Detroit Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera is a strong case in point. The 12-time All-Star is now 40 years old and hitting .175 with no home runs in 11 games while making $32 million.
It is doubtful Reynolds’ production will dip to those levels. Still, the Pirates are taking some risk by signing a player into his mid-30s.
However, a long-term contract with an average annual value of $13.3 million shouldn’t even be crippling, even to a low-budget franchise like the Pirates if it doesn’t pan out. However, with Reynolds’ ability, work ethic and character, it’s hard to think the Pirates won’t get their money’s worth.