Just as things had finally simmered down, our favorite trade target lit a match to the hot stove rumors that he wants out of his current situation.
After some seriously cringy photos of Bryan Reynolds and Pirates owner Bob Nutting talking during an early spring training batting session, the rumor mill is back up and running. Take a look for yourself; Reynolds looks completely disinterested in whatever Nutting is talking about.
Mere days later, news broke that the Pirates had offered Reynolds a six-year $80 million deal. A $13.33 million yearly average is laughable for a player of Reynolds caliber, which is exactly why Reynolds and his agent countered with an eight-year, $134 million deal. Since the Pirates don't place any emphasis on winning or even being remotely competitive these days, they naturally did not want to budge and Reynolds has since doubled down on his trade request.
Reynolds has long been a dream trade target of mine for our beloved Guardians, and this renewed declaration of a trade request only fuels my desire that the front office make the Pirates an offer. Reynolds would most certainly further solidify the lineup and also provide excellent defense in right.
From a player development standpoint, 2022 helped clear up the murky outfield situation. At this point last year no one would have dreamt that Steven Kwan and Oscar Gonzalez would have provided the contributions they did. No, the only lock at the time was Myles Straw in center field. I tend to be very optimistic and trusting of the front office, but adding another outfielder, one with a career 127 OPS+, should be something that isn't overlooked.
The current RF/1B/DH situation looks something like this. Gonzalez will likely see the bulk of his playing time in right field, while newly added Josh Bell will split time at first and DH with Josh Naylor. Here's the catch: Naylor has terrible splits against left-handed pitching, which means that Bell will likely see tons of time at first with lefties on the mound, and right field/DH will have to be handled by Gonzalez and Will Brennan. This is also assuming that Straw's 2022 season was an anomaly offensively and that he rebounds in 2023, allowing Brennan to slide to right field on those days.
Outside of George Valera, Brayan Rocchio, and Bo Naylor, I'd say no position player is off the table. Similarly on the pitching side of things, Gavin Williams, Tanner Bibee, and Logan Allen would be difficult to part with. I know I'm excluding some other obvious candidates, but for the sake of brevity, let's start with those six as "untouchable" in a trade.
So where does that leave us in a potential trade for Reynolds? That depends on how soon the Pirates actually think they can compete. Will they be near the bottom of the standings yet again? I tend to doubt it, but moving upwards from a 62-win season won't happen overnight, either. Seventy wins seems like an achievable goal for them, so that means they are still likely two to three years from seriously having a shot at contending for a divisional title or wild-card berth.
The Guardians have a ton of pitching talent, as we all know; every team in baseball knows this. So let's start there. So long Zach Plesac, and adios Daniel Espino. When he's on, and not punching the mound or aggressively taking off a shirt, Plesac can be an above-average middle-of-the-rotation type. Espino could be the next great closer in baseball, but to do so he must remain healthy, something that has eluded him thus far.
I'd also add in Gabriel Arias, as he can fill a number of roles for the Pirates. Arias is set to see some time in the outfield this spring training, but has also seen time at first, second, shortstop, and third. Usually that type of versatility is something I'm sure Tito Francona would not like to see go, but it's for the betterment of the club.
This is not to say that a package of Arias, Plesac, and Espino would get the job done. However, the Guardians would be dealing two of their top ten prospects away in this hypothetical, and that type of thing usually gets people taking notice (both good and bad).
All of this could be for naught, too. The Pirates have an obligation to trade Reynolds now, though they could sit around until the trade deadline and hope to receive more in a trade. However, that could backfire, too. Similarly, the Guardians could stand pat, or not wish to get involved in a bidding war with other clubs, because there are certainly numerous other teams that would no doubt like to add Reynolds to their roster.
But if I had any vote in the matter, I'd say go for it. Shoot your shot, go get Reynolds. He's young, he provides further depth to an already versatile lineup, and he is relatively cheap (thinking a seven-year, $112 million-ish deal sounds right). The Guardians have a window right now where they can still add to the roster while not mortgaging the future and instead bust that proverbial "window" wide open.