Even after Bryan Reynolds requested a trade from the Pirates, the team has given no indication of plans to shop him. General manager Ben Cherington called Reynolds’ request “disappointing” but immediately added that the request could have “zero impact” on the team’s approach to its All-Star center fielder. That appears to be the case, as while several clubs have inquired on Reynolds in the days since his trade, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes that the asking price is still through the roof — so much so that execs with three other clubs cast strong doubt on the chances of him actually being moved, per the report.
High asking prices are nothing new for the Pirates when it comes to Reynolds, though many onlookers might’ve wondered whether Reynolds’ request for a trade would grease the wheels on a transaction finally coming to fruition. It only ever takes one team to budge on the right prospect and/or make an unexpectedly strong offer, so situations such as this one can change quickly if circumstance dictate.
As it stands, however, Bucs seem intent on holding to the sky-high asking prices they’ve set on Reynolds in the past. The Seattle Times reported last year that Pittsburgh’s asking price for Reynolds when the Mariners asked at the 2021 trade deadline began with then-prospect Julio Rodriguez. The Miami Herald indicated last spring that Pittsburgh asked the Marlins for 2021 first-rounder Kahlil Watson, 2020 first-rounder Max Meyer and additional pieces. Both Watson and Meyer were consensus top-75 prospects in all of baseball at that point.
The calculus has inherently changed at least slightly since those reported asking prices, if only because Reynolds has inched closer to free agency. That said, he’s still under Pirates control for another three seasons, set to earn $6.75MM in 2023 before a pair of arbitration raises in 2024 and 2025. He’s also fresh off yet another strong season in which he slashed .262/.345/.461 (125 wRC+) with a career-high 27 home runs. Reynolds’ rate stats are down a bit from his brilliant 2021 season, though that’s at least partially due to a sluggish start in 2022; he finished the year quite strongly.
In all likelihood, Reynolds will continue to serve as one of the most oft-speculated and simultaneously least-attainable names on the trade market. It’s old hat for the 27-year-old by now, as he’s been the focus of trade pursuits for the bulk of his big league career. Such is the life of a young star on a rebuilding Pirates team, as both Reynolds and teammate David Bednar can attest. However, while Reynolds has at least looked to engineer his own exit from the perennial deluge of trade rumblings, Bednar has done no such thing. As Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, Bednar didn’t outwardly clamor for a long-term deal when asked about signing an extension but strongly implied he hopes to stay:
“I think you guys know how I feel about Pittsburgh. I love this place more than anything. But that’s the business part of it. I’m not worried about that. I’m just worried about getting outs for the whole season.”
It’s only natural that Bednar’s response would be one of affection for the city of Pittsburgh. He was, after all, born in Pittsburgh and raised in the area, attending nearby Mars Area High School before going to college in Easton — closer to Philadelphia. His family still lives in the Pittsburgh area.
Acquired from the Padres in the trade that sent Joe Musgrove to San Diego, Bednar has quickly emerged as one of the National League’s best relievers, pitching to a combined 2.40 ERA (2.57 FIP, 2.73 SIERA) with a huge 32.7% strikeout rate against a strong 7.8% walk rate in 112 1/3 innings with the Pirates. He moved into the closer’s role in 2022, saving a career-best 19 games, and has averaged just shy of 97 mph on his heater since being acquired by his hometown club. He comes with even more team control than Reynolds, as he’s not scheduled to become a free agent until the 2026-27 offseason. Teams have understandably placed plenty of inquiries, but the Pirates have (also understandably) set a lofty asking price on Bednar, just as with Reynolds.
While fans of baseball’s other 29 teams might be focused on who the Pirates might trade away, be it this offseason or next summer, Pittsburgh fans are more keenly focused on just how the Bucs might continue adding pieces this winter. The Pirates have already signed Carlos Santana, Vince Velasquez and Jarlin Garcia to one-year contracts as they look to improve their 2023 roster, and they’ll surely need to factor a catcher (or multiple catchers) into that equation.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic suggested recently that the Pirates plan to not only add a new starting catcher but also a backup in the weeks ahead. Top prospect Endy Rodriguez is the only catcher on the 40-man roster at the moment, and well-regarded as the 22-year-old switch-hitter may be, he’s played in all of 37 games above A-ball.
In 2022, the Pirates leaned on a combination of Jason Delay, Roberto Perez, Tyler Heineman, Andrew Knapp and Michael Perez behind the plate, creating a revolving-door effect that the team likely wishes to avoid in the future. Part of that was due to a May hamstring injury for Perez, which required surgery and ended the two-time Gold Glove winner’s season far earlier than anticipated. There’s been some mutual interest in the Bucs re-signing Perez, but Pittsburgh also reportedly has shown interest in former division rival Tucker Barnhart.
There are myriad options available in free agency, in addition to a few high-profile names on the trade market (e.g. Sean Murphy, Danny Jansen). However, with Rodriguez and 2021 No. 1 overall pick Henry Davis rising through the system, the Pirates are likely content to add some stopgap options while a pair of potential catchers of the future continue to develop in the upper minors.
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