There is No Winning this Reynolds Situation, and The Pirates Have to Point Fingers Internally

1-4-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

With stories like this, things don’t change as much as holes in knowledge start to get filled.

Jason Mackey filled in one blank, providing a rough report of the monetary gap between the two sides, that sits around 50 Million dollars. He obviously doesn’t need me to confirm his reporting, you know, he’s a real journalist, I’m a blogger & podcaster with some contacts.

That said, this doesn’t change anything I have put out there either. I said this was about term, and it is. That 50 million-ish dollars would come from the years the Pirates aren’t, at least as of now, willing to tack on.

From earlier reporting, we know the Pirates offer was worth more than the Ke’Bryan Hayes contract. Not including the option years, that was worth 70 million. If you assume the Pirates offered say 80 to Reynolds, simple math puts the green zone for Reynolds and his team at around 125-130 million at what I’d wager would be for 7 years.

This would take him through his year 35 season.

Now, another part of Mackey’s reporting put forward that from his sources, most don’t see Reynolds being a Pirate by 2024, some don’t see him even making 2023.

Again, I fully trust Jason Mackey, but this sent me back to my sources to see if things had changed in their minds. That answer is still a firm no.

I could just have bad sources, there’s a reason I don’t play reporter, but it’s equally possible, our sources are coming from different areas of the business and simply have different sets of information.

Whew.

That’s what we know and where we stand. Today, I want to spend some time talking about what this situation has created.

I’ve said this before, but there is no winning a deal like this for the Pirates. Moving Reynolds plain and simple will move the timeline.

Think about it, a team that wants to acquire Reynolds isn’t likely to be in a position to return MLB ready talent because they themselves are trying to add to the MLB roster. The Pirates are also supposed to now be in a place where they aren’t looking for subtraction.

So this will make return packages difficult. There will be highly touted prospects that are blocked by their current team, formerly highly touted prospects who haven’t broken through and if the Pirates are lucky, a young player who’s found a foot hold in the league.

None of that should be all that appealing to the Pirates. That stuff is fine when you’re moving someone like Adam Frazier who’s out of team control and your team isn’t ready to compete anyway.

The path to the best return for Reynolds is really to target young players with high upside and a considerable amount of time away from the league. Now I say best but I mean best value. Meaning this would improve the organization, just not right now at the MLB level.

See you can rarely serve two masters in MLB and that’s the situation the Pirates put themselves in with this player.

They are ready to show improvement, and they are ready to start seeing some of that top end talent make it and begin to impact the team, but neither of those two things can add up to improvement if they move their most complete baseball player.

You want something really scary, I mean beyond Reynolds leaving? If Mitch Keller comes out and pitches like a true top of the rotation arm this year, he’ll have 2 years of arbitration left, and I haven’t heard a single peep that he’s been approached.

In other words, the Pirates at some point are going to have to start facing the financial realities of this league. If not, building a team starts to resemble bailing water out of a boat with a pasta strainer.

This stuff will never stop being a thing and the Pirates window for deciding to extend a guy remains a problem. Think about a guy like Oneil Cruz. He’s exciting, his ceiling is still crazy high, he struggled last year by all accounts and still showed more offensive potential than anyone else they’ve had here not named Bryan Reynolds.

Still, he’s raw, I’m sure the Pirates or any team for that matter would love to know if he’s gonna stick at SS, move to the OF, hit lefties better, get the contact numbers up before making a long term decision.

Most teams could take that with no problem, the Pirates due to their own self imposed restrictions and those bestowed on them by the league are very likely to watch him go out and prove it this year, and at the same time, price himself out.

That’s the fine line, and folks, it’s unsustainable.

Now, if you basically ignore all that and focus more on keeping guys through team control years, you can manage timing and progression to a degree, but eventually the bill comes due. Let enough guys walk for the qualifying offer draft pick and eventually you run out of steam.

That’s why Reynolds is such a litmus test for this club. When they decided to not deal him with the last group, to me it said, we get he’s part of this thing, he has to be part of this thing, and when you decide that, you better not miss on getting the deal done.

Unfortunately, it looks like we’re poised to see exactly that.

When the Pirates inked Ke’Bryan Hayes it seemed like a good sign. It seemed like they had found someone they believed in, and aggressively signed him to an extension, even while he still has a bunch of questions to answer.

It’s a good deal even if he never evolves if only for the defense, but it’s only a good deal because Ke’Bryan for whatever reason took a very team friendly package. There’s a big part of me that believes the Pirates didn’t think he’d take this offer, but here we are.

There is enough talent in this system to still feel good about building something good, but if they don’t start keeping some of the gems they find, they’ll wake up one day like a drunken prospector who had too much fun at the bar in town after cashing in two months worth of panning.

Trading Reynolds will very much so be two steps back for this organization, and quite frankly even if it makes them a super great team in 2027, by then they will be forced to face the reality of Cruz running through his control, Keller, Brubaker, hell even Hayes himself will be easily movable by then if he hits more.

So the question really is, when do you put a foot down? At what point do you as a franchise decide ok, this is one guy we aren’t losing.

I can understand not wanting to lock yourself in to an expensive contract long term, but we’re talking the bare minimum price to do business in this league money here. 125-130 over 7 years shouldn’t sound like lockout money, we’re talking 18 million or so per season, and if that is not going to be in the cards, you can kiss goodbye anyone who ever wins Rookie of the Year. You can forget any pitcher who catches on before they hit arbitration.

Even the frugal Rays, a team that quite literally take every advantage the league gives them to short change players up to and including paying offering pay decreases to arbitration players, because they can, extend players. It’s part of doing business.

Maybe it’s personal between Cherington and Reynolds at this point, I wouldn’t rule that out, bad blood was brewed last year around arbitration time, but again, prove it. Prove it’s just one player and you couldn’t come together. Prove it by showing me someone else you want to keep and do.

Hayes isn’t enough, that’s two year old news at this point.

Here’s the poop with Reynolds. If they choose to just have him play, which is completely within their rights, he’ll play, and he’ll give it everything he’s got, but if he has a poor season we’ll be having a completely different conversation next offseason. Extension would no longer be worth worrying about, and return would become more about hoping you can get something worthwhile as opposed to a king’s ransom. If he kills it, it’s not like the fan base is suddenly not going to care next year, right when your team is poised to compete.

There is no way to win this I’ll say again. That said, here are the options on the table as I see them.

  • Force him to play it out, post the qualifying offer after 2025 and recoup a draft pick while hoping some of your young talent is ready to step in.
  • Trade him now for young prospects and eat that the team is no longer on track.
  • Trade him now for MLB ready players, not unlike Gerrit Cole to Houston and pray whatever team you deal with is dumb.
  • Extend him now, probably pay a premium to make up for pissing around in the first place and deal with moving him come 2027 or so anyway.

That’s the situation.

And it’s a situation they have created entirely on their own. This is a player who 100% wanted to play here. You don’t have to take my word for it, he’s put out several quotes in the media, and off the record has told multiple media members his intent to be a Pirate for a long time was not lip service.

In short, the Pirates had to go out of their way to sour this relationship this badly and at the end of the day, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

There is still every opportunity to overcome this situation, either now or later depending on what approach they take, but until they show they’re ready to step up and do the bare minimum pay to play amount, it’s always going to be little more than hope and timing with zero room for error.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

2 thoughts on “There is No Winning this Reynolds Situation, and The Pirates Have to Point Fingers Internally

  1. I think that Reynolds age complicates the issue. Yes, the Rays exte3nd loner/bigger contracts but if I’m not mistaken they are to younger players than Reynolds. I prefer to keep Reynolds through arbitration and make a qualifying offer at the end if he’s performing. That does almost as much as dealing him at this point as far as acquiring young, upside talent. If he ends up not accepting the QO and nobody signs him based on it that is a worst case and demonstrates that he wasn’t performing up to his current level and would have been a bad investment anyway. I think they should try to extend Keller now as well as Cruz but they also have the luxury of waiting another year for Cruz iMO. This will be Breys age 28 season while it will be 26 for Keller and 24 for Cruz. Therein lies the difference in making offers of 7+ years.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It seems to me that Brey only has 1 big contract coming his way and wants it now as it may not be available in his 30s.

    Like

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