SAN DIEGO – The Pittsburgh Pirates had plenty of suitors for Bryan Reynolds in the days leading up to the Major League Baseball trade deadline on Aug. 2.
Four months later, plenty of teams are still interested in trading for the center fielder.
The difference this time as executives from throughout the game gather for the Winter Meetings at the Manchester Hilton is that the Pirates have more of an urgency to trade their best player.
News broke Saturday that Reynolds has requested a trade. That request came after talks between the Pirates and Reynolds’ representatives on a contract extension reached an impasse.
Time will tell if the Pirates can make a deal for Reynolds at the Winter Meetings. However, there are plenty of teams interested.
A quick survey of executives and talent evaluators checking into the Manchester Hyatt on Sunday revealed at least nine teams interested in trading for Reynolds.
They are the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Guardians, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, New York Yankees, and Seattle Mariners.
The Pirates drove a very hard bargain for Reynolds back in August. That led many executives from teams to deduce that general manager Ben Cherington had no desire to trade Reynolds.
That was true at the time. The Pirates thought they could reach a long-term deal with Reynolds that would make him a cornerstone piece of the franchise’s rebuilding effort.
However, talks eventually broke down and Reynolds expressed his desire to leave.
Baseball people I talked to Sunday believe Cherington will have to lower his asking price for Reynolds now. The Pirates have lost some leverage in any trade talks now that word has gotten out that Reynolds has asked to be dealt.
However, what could work in the Pirates’ favor is that there could be a bidding war among multiple teams for Reynolds.
Beyond him being a quality player, a big part of Reynolds’ allure is that he is not eligible for free agency until after the 2025 season. Thus, whoever trades for the 27-year-old will have contractual control over him for three more years.
However, those fans thinking the Pirates will get a huge haul of prospects for Reynolds might be disappointed in what a trade ends up looking like.
“Reynolds is a good player but he’s not good enough that you give up half your farm system for him,” an executive from a National League team said Sunday. “Ben will make a good deal for him. He’ll get some help for the rebuilding. He’ll get one good prospect. But it’s not like someone is going to give up three top-100 prospects.”
The four teams that seemingly match up best with the Pirates trade are the Red Sox, Guardians, Mets, and Yankees. All have strong farm systems.
The best fit is the Guardians. They have a much deeper pool of pitching prospects than the other three organizations.
Left-hander Logan Allen and right-handers Daniel Espino and Gavin Williams would all likely pique the Pirates’ interest.
Epsino is at the top of the list as Baseball America ranks him as the 16th-best prospect in baseball. The 21-year-old was limited to four starts at Double-A Akron because of a knee injury but that is not expected to have a long-term effect.
Espino’s fastball tops 100 mph and he also has a wipeout slider.
Williams, 23, was a combined 5-4 with a 1.96 ERA in 25 starts with Akron and High-A Lake County this year. The 24-year-old Allen made 27 starts between Triple-A Columbus and Akron and went 9-7 with a 4.75 ERA.
Another prospect who could interest the Pirates is left-handed hitting outfielder George Valera, who is 22. He hit a combined .250/.353/.463 with 24 home runs in 132 games with Columbus and Akron.
If the Pirates could somehow pry two of those four away, it’s be as good as deal as Cherington could make under the circumstances.
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