Cleveland Guardians: Holding out hope for a Bryan Reynolds trade

CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 20: Bryan Reynolds #10 of the Pittsburgh Pirates runs the bases after hitting a home run during a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on September 20, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 20: Bryan Reynolds #10 of the Pittsburgh Pirates runs the bases after hitting a home run during a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on September 20, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /
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CINCINNATI, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 20: Bryan Reynolds #10 of the Pittsburgh Pirates runs the bases after hitting a home run during a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on September 20, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 20: Bryan Reynolds #10 of the Pittsburgh Pirates runs the bases after hitting a home run during a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on September 20, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

As long as Bryan Reynolds remains on the Pirates without a contract extension, the trade rumors will keep swirling. What’s a realistic offer the Guardians can offer Pittsburgh?

Bryan Reynolds is the Cleveland Guardians trade target that just won’t go away, and it’s easy to see why. Reynolds is 27 years old and any team acquiring him would retain his services for at least four years. Ultimately, the Pittsburgh Pirates aren’t going anywhere for at least a half decade, so a potential trade does make sense.

Recently, “reported” asking prices and offers from other clubs have been hitting the internet. These seem plausible, but nothing is verified so we do need to take them with a  grain of salt.

The first rumor swirling around involved the Marlins. Pittsburgh was reportedly asking Miami for the following:

  • SS Kahlil Watson: 19 years old in two weeks, 2021 first-round pick, Marlins #1 prospect, and the #25 rated prospect by MLB.com
  • RHP Max Meyer: 23 years old, 2020 first-round pick, Marlins #3 prospect, and the #35 rated prospect by MLB.com

The next rumor was the purported offer that the San Diego Padres made to the Pirates:

  • RHP Chris Paddack: 26 years old, three-year pro entering league during 2019 season, 20-19 record with 4.21 ERA and 61 starts during that time
  • LHP Ryan Weathers: 22 years old, broke into the bigs during the 2021 season, appearing in 30 games and starting in 18 games

Let’s take a second to recap. The first offer is reportedly what Pittsburgh asked of Miami, and the second was what San Diego supposedly offered to the Pirates. According to the same reports, the Marlins declined that first offer, and the Pirates declined the Padres’ offer.

What Can the Cleveland Guardians Offer the Pirates for Bryan Reynolds?

With that in mind, I think I have laid out a deal that both satisfies the Pirates’ demands and doesn’t leave the Guardians pipeline completely devoid of talent:

  • RHP Daniel Espino (Cleveland #2, MLB #53)
  • SS Gabriel Arias (Cleveland #3, MLB #73)
  • INF/OF Nolan Jones (Cleveland #6)

A few months back on the California Penal League podcast, we suggested a deal sending Arias, Jones, Zach Plesac, and James Karinchak. Truthfully, I would rather do that deal (I think Espino will be special), but if these reports are true, then the Espino, Arias, and Jones deal seems a bit more in line with what the Pirates want. That hurts, but these types of deals aren’t meant to be easy to stomach, either.

So let’s imagine that our hypothetical trade is accepted – then what? Glad you asked, because I have it all figured out (not life, just this trade).

Reynolds immediately slides into one of the two openings in the Guardians outfield; for the sake of this, let’s pencil him into right field. Amed Rosario can move to left field and split time with Oscar Mercado or Steven Kwan. In the batting order, Reynolds would be a very nice fit in the fifth spot; he’d certainly help lengthen the Guardians order, too.

For this season, Andrés Giménez and Yu Chang would make a ton of sense as your middle infielders. Then, maybe as early as 2023, Brayan Rocchio and Tyler Freeman could form that duo. The club would still have Giménez, Chang, Ernie Clement, Owen Miller and Jose Tena in the system for depth and bench purposes.

That sounds lovely to me, and truthfully, the fallout doesn’t seem that bad, either.

Now, losing Espino, who is the Guardians’ top pitching prospect and quickly becoming one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball, would sting. Though he does have some durability concerns, he can readily hit 100+ mph and has some impressive strikeout rates. At worst, he projects as a backend bullpen arm or closer, mostly due to those durability issues.

Arias had been tearing it up during spring training this year and just got sent down to Triple-A Columbus. He spent last season with the Clippers as well, but he was five-and-a-half years younger than the average age of the typical Triple-A player. But boy, if there is a spot the Guardians can afford to trade from, it’s the middle infield.

Nolan Jones really seems like an odd man out with the Guardians. He’s not going to play third base anytime soon, and first base is starting to look log-jammed with Bobby Bradley, Josh Naylor, and Jhonkensy Noel ahead of Jones.

The outfield is crammed, too. Top prospect George Valera looks like he’ll begin the season in Columbus. Kwan could and really should break camp on the Opening Day roster. Richie Palacios and Oscar Gonzalez will also be in Columbus. This doesn’t even include Naylor, Mercado, and maybe Zimmer, any of whom will likely remain around as depth/super-utility options.

See? I told you I had it all figured out.