Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds turned down multiple extension offers prior to the 2021 season, reports Craig Mish of SportsGrid and the Miami Herald (Twitter links). News of rebuffed extension efforts will only serve to further trade speculation surrounding Reynolds, though the Bucs surely have a sky-high asking price, as he’s emerged as their best player and can be controlled via arbitration for another four years.
Reynolds recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he didn’t talk about a long-term deal between the end of the 2021 season and MLB’s implementation of the lockout that froze transactions for 99 days, although that shouldn’t be taken as an indication that the Pirates have given up hope of signing him, even in light of today’s report from Mish. Extension talks are often reserved for Spring Training, with teams preferring to spend the bulk of the offseason exploring free agent and trade possibilities. The Pirates explored a possible extension with Reynolds prior to the 2020 season as well, though those talks obviously proved unfruitful as well.
Mish adds, as he’s previously reported in the past, that the Marlins still hold keen interest in prying Reynolds from Pittsburgh, and longtime Marlins beat writer Joe Frisaro tweets the same — that Reynolds remains a target for GM Kim Ng and her staff now that the lockout has lifted. They won’t be the only team with interest, of course, as there are several other teams in the hunt for outfield upgrades. The Yankees, Astros, Angels, Braves, Brewers and Mariners have all unsuccessfully tried to trade for Reynolds over the past year alone, and there are undoubtedly other clubs who’ve done so more quietly. The Phillies, Guardians and White Sox are all expected to pursue outfield help in this second wave of offseason activity.
[Related: Post-Lockout Impact Trade Candidates]
Realistically, the list of teams without any interest in trading for Reynolds is likely shorter than the list of teams who’d like to add him to their outfield mix. The switch-hitting 27-year-old finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2019 after posting a huge .314/.377/.503 batting line with 16 home runs, 37 doubles and four triples. He followed that with the quintessential “sophomore slump” in 2020’s shortened season (.189/.275/.357), but that came in a small-ish sample of just 208 plate appearances. Reynolds not only rebounded in 2021 but turned in his best year yet, batting .302/.390/.522 with 24 homers, 35 doubles and a league-leading eight triples. That 2020 flop looks like an aberration at this point, and Reynolds’ overall line .290/.368/.490 in 1400 big league plate appearances is immensely tantalizing for any club seeking outfield upgrades.
Of course, it’s also tantalizing for the Buccos to keep Reynolds and hope to build around him moving forward. Teams will undoubtedly try to persuade the Pirates to part ways with their newest star, but the Pirates’ rebuild is well underway and Reynolds will still be in his prime as prized prospects like Oneil Cruz, Henry Davis, Liover Peguero, Nick Gonzales and others percolate up to the Majors. The Pittsburgh farm is already ranked third in the game by the team at Baseball America, third by ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel and sixth by Keith Law of The Athletic. That system will be further bolstered when Pittsburgh picks fourth overall in this summer’s draft. Eventually, the Pirates will need to shift their focus to wins at the big league level, and Reynolds could be a huge part of that — or perhaps the final player moved on the path to building up MLB’s best overall farm system.