2 Guys Talkin’ Trades Winter Meetings

 11-7-22 – By Justin Verno & Corey Shrader – @JV_PITT and @CoreyShrader on Twitter

Justin Verno – While working today, it occurred to me that the 2023 WInter Meetings are being held from December 4th to the 7th. This is just a month away. Yikes. We are way behind here, as there’s a lot to get through. I feel that Ben Cherington could be more active than he was at last year’s Winter Meetings.

But before we get to it, a quick announcement: my normal partner in crime, Joe Boyd, has too much on his plate for the time being so he won’t be joining us. (Fear not, as Joe will be back for the 2023 August Trade Deadline. That still feels weird to say: August Deadline)

Pinch hitting for Joe: Corey Shrader! 

Corey Shrader –  Thanks, JV I am pleased to get the nod from the Skipper to take some cuts at these trade pieces for the time being. I think this off season could very well be a revelatory one in terms of direction this ship sails. Whether that means steering this team toward a “competition window” or giving everyone a glimpse of just how far that might be off of the horizon. There are some pretty large elephants in the room, so to speak, for Pittsburgh when it comes to names that fans should expect to hear rumored at the Winter Meetings. Do you reckon we should cover those first?

JV- Corey, I couldn’t have put it better.  As I see it, there are two elephants in the room: Bryan Reynolds and David Bednar. As the meetings get closer, we are going to hear these names pop up. This is not our fault, that needs to be said.  Neither Corey nor myself are advocating for the Pirates to trade these guys. But like it or not, we will hear their names, so we have to take a look at what those trades would have to look like. Let’s tackle Reynolds first as I think he’s less likely to be moved. 

Fangraphs has not released the 2023 ZIPS projections so we are flying a little blind here. Normally this is where Joe would bust out the surplus value chart, but we have to play a bit of guessing game Corey. 

CS-Trading Bryan Reynolds would not be an easy task to endeavor upon and for several reasons. Not only is he a fan favorite but he also happens to be one of the premier outfielders in baseball. Since his debut in 2019 Reynolds has accumulated 12.5 fWAR, a figure good enough to put him 11th among all qualified OFs and 34th among all position players. To boot, he is smack in the middle of his prime and just entering his ARB 2 year thus making him very attractive as a potential trade piece. Fans heard his name mentioned a lot this past offseason, we will be hearing it again. 

JV-In other words, Bryan Reynpolds is really good at baseball and Ben Cherington should look to get an extension done ASAP. However, that’s not why we’re here.

If we revisit the projections ZIPS had on Reynolds last year we would have a surplus around 45.8 million.  If we adjust the WAR down to 3 a year we would get an SV  33.2 Million. That’s the range we have to work with here. 

 Can one of us make sense of moving Bryan Reynolds? And that’s the thing here Corey, this is no longer about trading your gold in for cash. If BC is to move Reynolds he needs to make the roster better in 2023. Let’s see if one of us can do just that. 

3.723 Zips WAR3
3.624 Zips WAR3
3.125 Joe WAR3
10.4Total WAR9
x9MCost of winx9M
93.6MTotal Value81M
-47.8MSalary-47.8M
45.8MSurplus Value33.2M

CS- As Justin mentioned, our initial thoughts on any trade of Reynolds would be “I’d rather not.” But, let’s look at what I feel are two realistic enough types of trade packages. The first being a mostly prospect heavy package that would likely indicate our competition window is not as imminent. With the second being something that addresses a big club need right now & through what most would consider a window of competitive baseball in Pittsburgh.

Here is my attempt at scenario 1, the prospect heavy approach:

Trade Partner: Miami Marlins

Marlins Get: Bryan Reynolds – OF (MLB)

Bucs Get: Braxton Garrett – LHP (MLB)

Jose Salas – SS (50 FV, ETA 2025, SV $28)

Jake Eder – P (45+ FV, ETA 2023 pending rehab, SV $6)

Jacob Miller – P (40+ FV, ETA 2027, SV $3)

This is a move that I would call more setting up the future, but, adding Garrett would give the Pirates an MLB ready starting pitcher who flashed very solid stuff across 17 starts in 2022.

Braxton Garrett could likely slot in as the Bucs rotation as their # 3 starting pitcher for 2023. He is somewhat of a luxury piece for the Fish as their pitching depth is bonkers. While Garrett does not appear to have top of the rotation stuff, he would add much needed quality starting pitching ability. Working a very attractive Slider/Sinker approach with two other off-speed offerings and a four-seam fastball mixed in, Garrett makes an interesting target for a team without much quality major league starting pitching.

By my estimation, the crown jewel of this would be the 19-year-old shortstop, Jose Salas. I can already hear you asking, “why would we need another shortstop, we have a lot of middle infielders?” and that is a fair question. But, in a prospect trade for Reynolds, it must include a prospect with star potential. Salas has that. In fact, he could be one of the most underrated prospects in the game. He possesses a plus hit tool and base running, is a big-bodied kid (6’2”, 191) who should develop power as he matures. While power development is never assured – one could also look at his plate patience at A+ as a 19-year-old as yet another positive indicator of the ceiling (9.2% BB to 18.9% K).  The production dropped off from the A to A+ jump, but he was far from overmatched at the dish. He has the look to me of a prospect that could absolutely rocket up the ranks and the minors.

Jake Eder would be a very nice addition. Eder is not without risk as he is coming off of Tommy John surgery, but, Eder possesses an otherworldly slider. He tuned up AA in his 2021 season prior to injury, so it stands to reason that once he begins his rehab process, assuming no setbacks, Eder should be a quick moving arm. There is definite bullpen risk here – however – that risk could just see Eder become a bullpen ace given his premium stuff.

The final piece would be 2022 draftee, Jacob Miller. Miller was just drafted this past summer, so he has not played much professionally yet, but he features good breaking balls & ideal size for starting pitching prospects. Without premium velocity, type of prospect is very much a lottery ticket. It is also worth noting that, as always, TINSTAAPP.

A final word on dealing with Miami. This would be the kind of package I would go for. There are plenty of other attractive pitching based packages given their insane prospect depth & high end development system for arms. It is my personal preference to base packages around a position player/bat that can be said to have a true All-Star ceiling, hence my desire to add Salas as the main piece. Truth be told, you could probably build 3 or 4 different iterations of deals with MIA that would all be really compelling.

The second scenario will require some indulgence, but here is what I would consider to be a “our rebuild is nearing an end” .move:

Trade Partner: Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers Get: Bryan Reynolds – OF

Pirates Get: Will Smith – C

I did say this would require some indulgence, didn’t I?

Yes, I know that two of Pittsburgh’s top prospects are listed as catchers. Yes, I know that the Dodgers have all the resources in the world & they don’t need to trade to accomplish team building goals. But there have already been some rumblings about the possibility of Smith being made available this winter. Also, the Dodgers have uber-prospect Diego Cartaya rapidly rising & 2022 draftee Dalton Rushing presenting like one of the steals of the draft. Furthermore, they have been linked to the idea of moving Mookie Betts to 2b in the pursuit of adding additional outfield help. So, what if they could add a very cost-controlled Reynolds and still be able to flex their financial muscle to acquire additional players via free agency?

Do I necessarily believe the rumors that the Dodgers would move Smith? Well, probably not given that he is one of the best catchers in the game, Austin Barnes is not quite good enough to take on a full workload, Cartaya is likely to open in AA, & Rushing even lower. But, it is curious that these rumors have been seen at all. Often, if there is smoke this early, there could be fire later. Combine that smoke with the fact that Pittsburgh has absolutely zero big league catching. None. So perhaps the match is not as far-fetched as it appears at first glance.

Smith will be the same age as Reynolds in 2023 (28). With Smith just entering his ARB 1 year, he would fill the catching void for the next 5+ years with All Star caliber play. But what about Henry Davis & Endy Rodriguez? Yes, what about them? Well, this trade for Smith would open various possibilities. 

Moving Davis off C, where he likely is not defensively adequate, and into the OF would make a lot of sense. His arm would be strong enough to play in any major league outfield and his athleticism would play quite well in a corner.

Endy is a trickier case to rationalize given that reports have him being a capable defender a C. He can play any number of positions from 2B, 1B, DH, C, some OF.  So, while moving players off of position isn’t always a solution, it feels like a reasonable path here. Endy sort of presents like a less athletic Dalton Varsho. A swiss-army knife with a bat that could play as well or better than the aforementioned Varsho. 

Another option would be exploring trading one of Davis or Endy to address other needs at the MLB level right now. Perhaps pitching? Both have a lot of value.

I will admit, this one requires something of an imagination, but crazier trades have happened. Perhaps the most unlikely part here is the notion that LA would seriously move their prize big league back-stop without a plug & play replacement immediately on hand. The rumors existing about Smith though make it hard not to dream on some. 

JV- 2 trade packages that present the dilemma in moving Bryan Reynolds. Cherington would need to add players that open the  2023 season in Pittsburgh or at the very least are close enough that they make their debut in 2023, it’s just not an easy endeavor and if you think my proposals look any easier, you think wrong.

The Trades

JV- After reading Coreys deals I noticed that one deal is built with prospects and the other with a one for one swap of an MLB player at a premium position. So I’m going to use the same teams and flip the coin. Let’s start with the Dodgers.

The Dodgers werel the hands on favorite to repeat all year, and man what a regular season they had but they fell short of their goal. Looking at 2023 they will still be stacked and they will still be one of the hands on favorites to win it all. One spot they can upgrade though? One Cody Bellinger. 

LA Dodgers get- Bryan Reynolds- OF ($47M)

PIrates get – Bobby Miller-SP– ETA 2023– FV 50($21M)

It’s easy to fall in love with his FB as it sits at 97 and can hit triple digits topping off at 102, he still needs to command it better and like Quinn Priester you want that kind of heat to be more dominant. Add in a slider that has plus plus ability, a change up that could play and you get a promising upside starter. The K rate(29.8-33.3%) and walk rates(4.8-81%) have been elite, the stuff is there and it’s awesome. He has the look of a guy one adjustment away and look out. 

Andy Pages-OF– ETA 2023 – FV 50($28M)

OK, by now it’s no secret I would love for the Pirates to acquire Andy Pages as this is the 3rd time I’ve used him in one of these trade proposals. Just 22 and the power has already developed, smacking 31 and 26HR the last two years he has the kind of power we can dream on and that he could hang in CF with that power is a bonus. He’s not without weakness as he hit .236 in AA this past season, however that was accompanied by an OBP of .336 due to his to eye and patience at the plate(10.9% walk rate in 2022) He needs to get his launch angle under control(24-25% per FG) this leads to a lot of flyouts and a few strikeouts(24.5% in 2022). Perhaps we can get Ke’Bryan Hayes and Andy together to swap some of the launch angle? 

Cody Bellinger–OF– Last year of ARB, 18M projection

OK, so Bellinger wouldn’t be part of the actual trade here, but I don’t see the LAD going to ARB with him with the Reynolds acquisition, nor do I see another team claiming him at 18M? If I’m BC I’m on the phone with Cody’s agent as I am completing the deal to bring him to PNC. Once a rising star his 1.9 WAR does not justify an 18M contract, this  would be a great gamble by the Bucs if they can bring him in, even if by claiming him and avoiding arbitration. He’s the same age as Reynolds, 27 and perhaps a new city would do him wonders.

Miami Vice-

Kim Ng has a Bryan Reynolds crush, that’s not really a secret anymore. She still needs an OF upgrade and a LH bat. Can we find a deal here with Miami’s pitching surplus? 

I see 3 players that make sense for the Buccos. Pablo Lopez, Edward Cabrera and Trevor Rogers. Cabrera and Rogers come with red flags but high ceiling. Cabrera has had an injury and an IL stint every season while Rogers(LH) doesn’t seem to be the guy he was in his rookie season. Lopez is the safe bet, but I have a hard time walking away from Cabrera.

Marlins get- Bryan Reynolds–OF-($47M)

Travis Swaggerty–OF–FV 45($6M)

Pirates get- Edward Cabrera-SP–MLB 5 yrs of control–FV 50($21M)

It’s really hard to gauge what Cabrer’a’ SV is due to how much time he has spent on IL so I am using his prospect status here. This a gamble by Ben Cherington due to the red flags, but Cabrera’s stuff and velo always return, a great sign. The talent here just isn’t in question and if he stays healthy he would give the Bucs a great 1-2 punch with Contreras. 

JJ Bleday–OF–MLB– FV 40

Pirates take a chance here, and yes you’ve seen his name in these trades proposals before. JJ has graduated but with a -0.3 WAR in 65 games he doesn’t hold a ton of value but the upside and power is worth taking a look at. 

I think it’s possible the Bucs could add one more piece here but the price for Cabrera could be much higher so I’ll hold it here. As I mentioned, it’s tough to get to an SV here.

Final Thoughts

JV- In the end I hope we end up hearing that the front office has extended Reynolds, not traded him. But until that happens we will see a lot of trade proposals, we will hear a lot of trade rumors. But in the end putting something together that makes sense for both teams just isn’t easy. The price  won’t just be high Corey, it needs to be right, it needs to fit the window of contention and that window is real close to being open here.

Oddly I think both the Malins and the Bucco fans will hate my offer here. One side will say I’m nuts and that the Marlins don’t have to move Cabrera. The other will claim that you don’t add an injury prone starter. 

The LAD will think I’m bonkers for moving a “future ace” for Reynolds. 

The only win is to get the extension done.

CS- I think you hit it square on the head here. The most favorable route for this team would be an extension. There is nothing more I’d like than to not have to read all of the rumors this offseason and the “typical Pirates” remarks. Should Pittsburgh decide to move their best veteran player it needs to be a near perfect fit. In either adding real, big league ready assets, or adding possible star level prospects talent. 

If I may editorialize some to close out, I don’t think that fans will be pleased with a prospect heavy return here.  The signal that it would send, in my opinion, is that we aren’t that close to having a winner. While it may not technically be true, that is the vibe that would surround it. Frankly, I do not think that this front office has that kind of good-will built up. Luckily for them, I think keeping their star outfielder would both establish more fan faith and move them closer to a winning club.

JV- If Nutting is in the business of putting asses in the seats, this is the best way to do. Get your best vet extended and add around him!

Next week doesn’t get any easier for us as we take a crack at making sense of moving the home town hero: David Bednar.

3 thoughts on “2 Guys Talkin’ Trades Winter Meetings

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