The Pirates and center fielder Bryan Reynolds have agreed to a two-year contract to avoid arbitration, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN (Twitter link). The deal covers the 2022-23 campaigns and doesn’t affect the team’s window of contractual control. Reynolds is a CAA Sports client.
It’s a $13.5MM guarantee, reports Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter). He’ll receive matching $6.75MM salaries in each of the next two seasons, adds Rob Biertempfel of the Athletic.
Mackey wrote last week the Pirates were hoping to get a two-year deal done with Reynolds. As he noted, the Bucs are a “file-and-trial” team, meaning they decline to discuss one-year agreements with players once the deadline to exchange arbitration figures passes. That’s a fairly common practice around the league, albeit one teams set themselves.
By establishing the precedent they won’t continue negotiations after filing day, the reasoning goes, teams can deter players from filing at a high number in hopes of anchoring further discussions from an elevated starting point. If team and player go to a hearing, the arbitrator chooses one of the side’s desired figures rather than picking a midpoint. That incentivizes both to file for a salary reasonably in line with established precedent, since an outlier in either direction is less likely to be judged fair in the hearing.
On the other hand, going to a hearing with a star player like Reynolds isn’t ideal. The 27-year-old maintained in the past he wouldn’t be miffed by the process, but also acknowledged that the inherently adversarial arbitration process can sometimes get “messy” (link via Mackey). Signing a two-year deal after filing day allows the Pirates to maintain they’ve not violated their “file-and-trial” policy while avoiding the possibility of irritating one of their best players.
From Reynolds’ perspective, he locks in guaranteed earnings over the next couple years without delaying his path to free agency. He’ll also make more money this season than he would’ve even had he won a hearing. Reynolds’ camp had filed for a $4.9MM salary; the team had countered at $4.25MM. Pittsburgh will go above Reynolds’ desired mark this year to foreclose the possibility he receives a notable raise in 2023 with another big season.
Both sides are surely glad to avoid hearings for the next two years, but Reynolds’ long-term status with the organization isn’t much affected by today’s news. This was his first of four seasons of arb-eligibility as a Super Two qualifier. Barring another agreement at some point down the line, he’ll head through the arbitration process again in the 2023-24 and 2024-25 offseasons.
Reynolds is controllable through 2025, his age-30 campaign. He reportedly rejected an extension offer from the Bucs prior to the 2021 season and said in Spring Training the organization hadn’t seriously approached him about a long-term deal this year. Biertempfel tweets the two sides have discussed various potential contract structures in the past. It stands to reason they’ll eventually make a renewed effort at a longer-term pact.