The Marlins have longed been a team that has been interested in outfielder Bryan Reynolds, and that interest has reportedly continued as Craig Mish, who covers the Marlins for the Miami Herald and MLB Network, says the Marlins still have interest in acquiring the services of Reynolds. Mish adds that the asking price is “very high.”
The Pirates have a decision to make, and it comes down to three choices. They can opt to extend Reynolds, which could very likely mean giving out the largest contract in team history. The second choice is they could simply do nothing. Reynolds is still under control through 2025, and the Bucs could opt to stay the course for now. Finally, Ben Cherington could decide to pull the trigger on a trade, which would give the Pirates their biggest return of any of the trades under Cherington.
Let’s start by saying this — if a team wants to acquire Reynolds, the package heading to Pittsburgh would have to be substantial. By this, I mean to a point where the Marlins or any other team may not feel comfortable in green lighting a deal. The Pirates have no urgency to trade the 2021 All-Star since he is under contract for four more seasons.
With that being said, while the Marlins might not have premier prospects in their system, they have a pretty solid group of young players, notably on the pitching side. Who are some of these young guys the Pirates could have interest in? Let’s explore.
Pablo Lopez, RHP
One Major League piece that would be of interest for the Pirates is Lopez, who recently turned 26. The right-hander dazzled in 2021, going 5-5 with a 3.07 ERA/3.29 FIP in 20 starts. He picked up 115 strikeouts and walked just 26 in 102.2 innings of work. Lopez is under team control through 2024.
Would the Marlins trade a key piece of their big-league rotation? It might be a tough sell, but it’s a realistic ask from the Pirates as one of the key pieces of a package.
Max Meyer, RHP
The third overall pick in the 2020 draft, Meyer may not be big in stature, standing just 6 feet tall, but his stuff sure plays big. He impressed in his first taste of pro ball, pitching to a 2.27 ERA with 130 strikeouts in 111 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Meyer is expected to make his Major League debut at some point in 2022.
Baseball Prospectus has him as the No. 24 prospect, FanGraphs pegs him as No. 58 and Baseball America slots him in at No. 72 on their respective top prospects lists.
Kahlil Watson, SS
Watson piqued the interest of the Pirates in last year’s draft. So much, in fact, that the Bucs were reportedly considering taking him with the first overall selection. Instead, Watson surprisingly slipped to No. 16, where it took an over slot deal for Miami to secure him.
Watson only played nine games after being drafted, but posted a 200 wRC+ in that small sample. He is an above-average runner, and projects to have plus-power at the Major League level. Watson ranks No. 45 on Baseball Prospectus, 49th on Fangrpahs and 60th on Baseball America’s top prospects lists.
Eury Perez, RHP
Perez is just 18 years old, but was quite good in his first go at pro ball. Between two levels finishing the season at High-A, Perez had an ERA of 1.96, and racked up 108 strikeouts in 78 innings. Prospect rankings wise, he is No. 48 on Baseball America, 54 on Baseball Prospectus and 67 on Fangraphs.
Edward Cabrera, RHP
Cabrera reached the big leagues in 2021, but struggled in his first taste of big league action. He pitched at three different levels in the minor leagues a season ago and was solid at each one. Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus both rank him 69th, and Fangrpahs has him just outside of the top 100 at 107.
Sixto Sanchez is still a highly-regarded prospect and pitched well in a limited sample in 2020. He is dealing with arm injuries, but if the Pirates clear his medicals, he could be an intriguing option in a trade. Outfielder JJ Bleday was ranked in the Top 100 of just about every top prospects list a season ago, but scuffled at Double-A in 2021. He did post a 1.035 OPS in the Arizona Fall League this offseason.
Left-handed pitchers Jake Eder and Dax Fulton, and infielder Yiddi Cappe could also be of interest as complementary pieces in a trade.
If the Marlins want Reynolds, it is going to cost at least two of the first five names mentioned, in addition to several solid secondary pieces. Again, a high asking price, but with no pressure to move him, Cherington should only trade Reynolds if, in the words of Vito Corleone, he gets “an offer he can’t refuse.”