The trade market hasn’t gotten rolling in full just yet, with many teams focused on the draft and some borderline clubs waiting to see how the current roster performs for a bit longer before adding or subtracting from the mix. At 14 games under .500 with a -129 run differential and a 10-game deficit even in the Wild Card hunt, the Pirates aren’t going to be under any delusions about contending in the current season. That doesn’t mean they’ll tear the entire roster down, however, and Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that Pittsburgh has already rejected “tempting” offers for both center fielder Bryan Reynolds and closer David Bednar.
Reynolds and Bednar are the team’s highest-profile players (and thus likely to be the most frequently speculated-upon by fans and pundits over the next three weeks), but it’s long seemed unlikely that either would be moved. Reynolds is on a two-year deal covering the 2022-23 seasons and is then arbitration-eligible for another year before he’ll become a free agent after the 2025 season. The Pirates have turned away interest in him for more than a year now. Bednar, meanwhile, has a whopping four seasons of club control remaining beyond the current year — and being a Pittsburgh native certainly makes him a bit more marketable to the fan base. Although Reynolds and Bednar have already been the focus of some talks with other clubs, Biertempfel suggests that a deal involving either player remains unlikely. (USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported over the weekend that the Bucs have told teams that Bednar, in particular, will not be traded this year.)
Both players have performed well in 2022, and both could be key pieces when the Pirates take more aggressive strides to emerge from this rebuilding effort. The 27-year-old Reynolds had a dismal start to the season, slashing an uncharacteristic .202/.301/.345 in 136 plate appearances through May 16. In 208 plate appearances since that time, he’s hitting .299/.370/.543 with 11 homers, eight doubles and a pair of triples — right in line with the production you’d expect based on his output from 2019-21. A potential injury further diminishes the chances that Reynolds could be moved, though the team has yet to formally provide an update on his status today.
Bednar, meanwhile, has emerged as one of the NL’s best relievers since coming over from the Padres in the Joe Musgrove trade. In 101 2/3 innings with the Bucs since Opening Day 2021, the 27-year-old has a 2.39 ERA with a 33% strikeout rate, a 7.8% walk rate, 18 saves and 17 holds. His 15.7% swinging-strike rate in that time is tied for 11th among 146 qualified relievers in that time.
Various reports over the past year have illustrated just how high Pittsburgh’s asking price on Reynolds has been. The Miami Herald reported in March that the Pirates asked the Marlins for a package headlined by recent first-rounders Kahlil Watson and Max Meyer over the winter (in addition to other piece). The Seattle Times reported last October that the Pirates’ asking price from the Mariners last July began with Julio Rodriguez.
Requests of that nature are the reason that Reynolds and Bednar occupied the final two spots on MLBTR’s Top 50 trade candidate rankings last week, as opposed to more prominent listing that would be commensurate with their talent and potential impact. It’s always possible that a team absolutely overwhelms the Pittsburgh front office, but the far likelier outcome is that the Bucs move some veterans with minimal team control remaining (e.g. Jose Quintana, Ben Gamel).