Due to the 99-day lockout this winter, a significant number of arbitration cases remain unsettled as the season begins. One of those is Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds. With the player filing at $4.9MM and the team at $4.25MM, a $650K gap exists between the sides. While some teams have made exceptions this year to the game’s otherwise-pervasive file-and-trial policy, it appears the Pirates would like to stay true to that without setting up a midseason fight with their best player. According to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “the team has been pushing to sign Reynolds to at least a two-year deal.”
Reynolds, 27, is entering the arbitration system for the first time. That means his 2022 salary will echo down the road, since he’ll also be arbitration eligible for the 2023, ’24, and ’25 seasons. A two-year deal would at least provide the Pirates with some cost certainty. Plus, Mackey’s sources say owner Bob Nutting does not like the optics of going to an arbitration hearing with Reynolds.
A recent example of what the Pirates appear to be aiming for happened with the Dodgers and Walker Buehler. The club had exchanged figures with Buehler in January ’21 and were facing an $850K gap, but instead hammered out a two-year, $8MM deal to buy out his first two arbitration years without affecting the team’s control over the player, going to a hearing, or violating the file-and-trial policy.
Reynolds generated plenty of interest on the trade market this offseason, with the Padres and Marlins among those recently connected. Pirates GM Ben Cherington recently said to Mackey, “Those calls are incoming calls. They’re not outgoing calls.”
Yesterday, the Pirates announced the largest contract in franchise history, an eight-year, $70MM extension with third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes. Reynolds reportedly turned down some extension offers from the Pirates prior to the 2021 season. His price can only have risen since, significantly beyond that of Hayes. Reynolds told Mackey in February of this year that he hadn’t heard anything from the Bucs prior to the lockout.