The Pirates have made a handful of moves to bring in major league talent this winter, but one of the biggest storylines remains the potential departure of star outfielder Bryan Reynolds. Reynolds handed in a trade request on December 3, but at this point remains on the Bucs’ roster, with the team reportedly setting a high asking price for the 27-year-old. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi adds a bit more depth to that, reporting Pittsburgh wants a top starting pitcher to headline the return. Morosi cites the Dodgers’ Bobby Miller and the Blue Jays’ Ricky Tiedemann – both of whom are top-40 MLB prospects – as examples of the sort of prospect they want.
While both L.A. and Toronto could make sense as speculative fits for Reynolds, neither has been reported as in discussions with the Pirates. That’s not true of the Yankees though, and Morosi further reports that New York has been in contact with the Pirates over the past few weeks. The Yankees’ major remaining off-season need is a left-fielder so the switch-hitting Reynolds makes plenty of sense, especially given the free agent market has thinned out considerably following Andrew Benintendi and Michael Conforto finding new homes.
As Morosi notes, one roadblock to a deal could be Pittsburgh’s desire for a starting pitcher to headline the deal. The Yankees’ system is headlined by position player prospects such as Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza and Jasson Dominguez. Their top starting pitcher prospects, according to Baseball America, are Randy Vasquez, Will Warren and Drew Thorpe, but all three project as back-of-the-rotation types rather than the frontline starter Pittsburgh is seeking. Clayton Beeter shot up New York’s prospect charts after coming over from the Dodgers in the Joey Gallo trade and would be an intriguing name to watch, but unlikely to headline any deal.
A potential trade of Reynolds would help to free up the surplus of outfielders the Pirates have. Alternatively, as Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic writes, general manager Ben Cherington could package up one of his lesser-known outfielders with other prospects in a deal, possibly for a starting pitcher.
“We would still like to add a starting pitcher. That market’s been strong, but we continue to stay engaged with some free agents and trade opportunities. Both of those can be hard to speculate, in terms of how likely it is to line up. We’d also like to add another position player, if we can,” Cherington said.
As things stand, the Pirates are slated to go with some combination of Reynolds, Jack Suwinski, Miguel Andujar and Connor Joe in the outfield at the major league level, with Ji Hwan Bae, Calvin Mitchell, Canaan Smith-Njigba and Travis Swaggerty options as well, so it certainly makes sense that the Pirates could dip into that group to try and bolster another part of the roster.
Biertempfel’s report also provides some update on shortstop Oneil Cruz, who sustained an ankle injury playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
“He does have some swelling. He’s not gonna play right now and let that calm down. We’re going to try to get him to the States after the holidays, just to be sure about what’s going on. But all reports so far are that it’s a relatively minor thing. It should pass without being too much of an issue,” Cherington said.
While there’s nothing definitive there, it doesn’t seem like there’s too much concern over Cruz’ status from the Pirates. After belting 17 home runs and slashing .233/.294/.450 across 361 plate appearances, Cruz finished sixth in NL Rookie of the Year voting, and looks set to be Pittsburgh’s opening day shortstop in 2023.