Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said yesterday that he expects star Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds and club officials to resume discussions regarding a possible extension at some point soon. That Reynolds and the Pirates would resume talks is of little surprise. While the sides were around $50MM apart in previous discussions and Reynolds went as far as to request a trade back in December, since reporting to camp last week Reynolds has reiterated that he would still be interested in extending his stay in Pittsburgh, so long as a deal that’s fair for all parties is presented.
Whether Reynolds ultimately signs an extension with the Pirates or departs, either by trade or as a free agent following the 2025 season, he seems likely to find his payday somewhere. The 28-year-old outfielder has largely looked the part of an All Star-caliber player since his debut in 2019, barring the shortened 2020 campaign where Reynolds struggled thanks in large part to a deflated .231 BABIP and an anomalous uptick in strikeout rate. The 2021 season in particular was a stellar one for Reynolds, as he slashed .302/.390/.522 (good for a 141 wRC+) while playing strong defense in center field and accumulating 6.1 fWAR throughout a campaign that would ultimately see him garner down-ballot MVP votes. That could prove to be a ceiling, particularly if defensive metrics continue to sour on his glovework in center (as was the case in 2022), but the widespread trade interest in Reynolds and the Buccos’ own interest in extending him speak to the caliber of player he’s become in his four big league seasons.
More from around the NL Central…
- Sticking with the Pirates, Mackey discussed right-hander Johan Oviedo’s role ahead of the coming season, indicating it’s likely he will begin the season as a member of the starting rotation in Pittsburgh. Following his arrival in the deal that sent lefty Jose Quintana to the Cardinals at the trade deadline last season, Oviedo made seven starts for the Pirates, pitching to a 3.23 ERA that was 30% better than league average by ERA+ in 30 2/3 innings of work. While the Pirates added both Rich Hill and Vince Velazquez over the offseason, both of who seem likely to join Mitch Keller, Roansy Contreras, and JT Brubaker in the rotation this year, Mackey notes that it’s possible that Pittsburgh will opt for a six man rotation to begin the year rather than bump Oviedo or Brubaker either to Triple-A or the bullpen.
- Brewers left-hander Ethan Small is set to start the season in a relief role, manager Craig Counsell tells reporters, including Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Small, the club’s first round pick in the 2019 draft, has spent his whole career as a starter to this point, but is now being looked at as an option for the Opening Day bullpen due to Milwaukee’s depth in terms of starting options and the club’s lack of lefty bullpen options beyond Hoby Milner, particularly given the fact that Aaron Ashby is set to begin the season on the injured list. A move to relief could be helpful for Small, who faced struggles with his control last season. The lefty posted a 13% walk rate in Triple-A en route to a 4.48 ERA in 103 innings at that level while walking eight batters in his 6 1/3 big league innings during a brief MLB debut last year.
- Cubs manager David Ross spoke to reporters yesterday, including MLB.com’s Matthew Ritchie, regarding youngster Christopher Morel’s role as he heads into what will be his second season in the majors. While Morel seemed to be a potential front-runner to start at third base for the Cubs this season, Ross seems more focused on Morel’s versatility, noting he could serve as a fourth outfielder for the club behind starters Ian Happ, Cody Bellinger, and Seiya Suzuki, or act as a utility player, combining his experience in the outfield with his ability to play every infield position besides first base. Chicago’s recent signing of third baseman Edwin Rios might factor into this thinking, as the lefty Rios has the potential to form an effective platoon with incumbent third baseman Patrick Wisdom, who mashed lefties to a line of .250/.336/.556 (147 wRC+) in 141 plate appearances against opposite-handed pitching last year.