The Yankees have used a surprisingly high number of players in the outfield corners this season, for a variety of reasons. Most recently, the likes of Ryan LaMarre, Greg Allen, Trey Amburgey, Tim Locastro, and Tyler Wade have spent time there. It’s true that injuries (and COVID-19) have changed the team’s plans, but if the Yankees want to make the postseason, they have to find a way to field better players night in and night out.
It’s easier said than done, though. Acquiring players in the trade market is not always as simple as it sounds. The Yankees often encounter teams with high demands when it comes to prospect capital, and the players that may not cost too much to bring in prospects-wise are often tied to expensive contracts that could derail their luxury tax plans.
Evidently, the Yankees need help, especially in the outfield. Aaron Judge will return soon (knock on wood), but it’s increasingly difficult to have any confidence in Clint Frazier, Miguel Andújar, and Brett Gardner going forward, and Giancarlo Stanton is not yet ready to play the outfield.
There are several corner outfielders, or outfielders in general, that have been linked to the Yankees in the last few weeks. Both Martes, Starling and Ketel, could make sense, as would Texas Rangers’ slugger Joey Gallo.
How about Bryan Reynolds, from the Pittsburgh Pirates? Would he make sense from a competitive standpoint? And would the Bucs be willing to discuss a trade?
Let’s try to answer each question, one by one. Reynolds would be a great fit for the Bombers. He is currently slashing a fantastic .301/.389/.520 with 17 home runs in 90 games and 378 plate appearances. He has a great 146 wRC+ and has accumulated a whopping 3.2 fWAR.
There were some concerns about his hitting ability entering the season, since he batted .189/.275/.357 in 55 games last year. However, he had excelled as a rookie in 134 games back in 2019 (.314/.377/.503, 16 homers, 130 wRC+) in a larger sample. In the end, he ended up showing how talented he is in 2021.
In fact, his power has taken a step forward: he already has more homers in 2021 than his debut year, two campaigns ago. His isolated power in 2019 was .189, whereas it is already up to .219 this season.
Defensively, he is OK. He has played all three outfield positions in 2021, but his best fit is a corner, and that’s completely fine because it would fit a glaring need on the Yankees’ roster.
Financially, Reynolds would be an easy fit for the Yankees. He is making near the minimum this year, $601,000 to be precise, and has four seasons of arbitration after 2021. In short, he is under team control for roughly four and a half more years.
Naturally, his salary will increase in arbitration, but generally speaking, acquiring Reynolds would be a worthwhile investment for the Yankees from a payroll standpoint. He is cheap, and he is good.
Now, would the Pirates be willing to deal him? That’s where everything goes downhill. Since he is so good, young (he just turned 26) and under team control for many more years, the most likely scenario is that the Pirates build around their star.
It’s difficult to envision a scenario in which the Pirates trade a good, cheap, and young player with more than four years of team control. If you think about it, those are the type of pieces they should be looking to acquire, not trade away.
Make no mistake: Pittsburgh will be active near the deadline. They will almost certainly trade closer Richard Rodriguez and other useful relievers. Tyler Anderson could also make sense for pitching-starved organizations.
Bryan Reynolds, however, looks like a keeper for them. The Yankees would need to present an overwhelming offer that they just wouldn’t refuse to pry him away from Pittsburgh.