Four years into the Christian Yelich trade, the 2022 offseason is the perfect time for the Milwaukee Brewers to get another underrated player out of the small club market. Reports last summer suggested that Milwaukee made a “big offer” to the Pittsburgh Pirates versus all-star Brian Reynolds – so that should be explored again – with the Brewers upping the ante even more.
The Brewers have a World Championship crew led by another world leader. They could be looking for a couple more seasons before having to take their paycheck by moving those guns, so it’s time to strike. But that’s not a blanket move for 2022 and 2023. As you’ll see, bringing in Reynolds now helps both present and future.
Just like Yelich ahead of the 2018 season, Reynolds will be a great fit for a squad that requires a good racket to power up their attack. Reynolds, 27, has 368 OBP and 128 OPS+ across 1,400 games in his three seasons. Last season, Reynolds was exceptional with a .302/.390/.522/.912 slash that included 24 Hours, 35 doubles, 93 points and 90 RBI points for the National League. worst a crime.
How does Reynolds compare to all the MLB players since 2019? Perhaps better than most people think, often ahead of men like Chris Bryant, Nick Castellanos, and Starling Marty:
- 9th place in World War II (8.7)
- 9 in WOBA (.364)
- 9th place in OBP (.368)
- Tenth in WRC+ (127)
- 14th place in SLG (.490)
Reynolds’ OBP and switching ability will be huge additions to the lineup. Manager Craig Counsell can utilize it in a variety of positions in order depending on the daily encounters – and it’s a valuable weapon. In addition to his base skill, Reynolds has some pop in his racket with a potential power boost traveling with him on the move from PNC Park to American Family Field. Over the past three seasons, PNC Park has been the third-worst park in terms of home runs, while Milwaukee Stadium is 11, about 6% above the MLB average.
Some might find it strange to treat the outer sphere when most were looking at first (or even third) base as a position to improve. Not much has been said about the stadium, which appears to be filled with Eilish, Lorenzo Cain, Hunter Renfrew and Tyrone Taylor. This was the same argument against the acquisition of Yelich a few years ago as Brewers Ryan Braun and Domingo Santana from season 30 had HR, Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips. Things can change quickly and players don’t develop how you imagine.
Looking into 2022, homebrewers should be concerned about Yelich’s back (and improper defense), Kane’s age/injuries, Renfrew versus right issues (.272 career OBP), and Taylor’s lack of experience. Rotating players and maximizing their abilities through improved comfort and matching results in Milwaukee getting the best results. Plus, with the DH potentially hitting the NL, it gives The Brewers an extra place to keep bats in the lineup, but off the field.
As an outside player, Reynolds would be serviceable at the center of the field and would once again help him move into American Family Field where the gaps aren’t wide. With Cain mostly in a guard position in 2022, Reynolds would be a solid choice to run balls into any corner of his. Reynolds ranks 8th in Defensive Rounds (DRS) among defensive players in the past three years, but only 22nd in the Ultimate Zone rating per 150 games (UZR/150). His -3.2 UZR/150 puts him just below average (zero), depending on how confident you are in the defensive metrics.
Also like Yelich, the beauty of Reynolds’ deal is several years of team control at an affordable price to the club in its first year of arbitration, expected to hit $4.5 million in 2022. So if the Brewers see a two-year window with their promotion, it’s still They could flip Reynolds to gain more youngsters down the road if salary or talent becomes an issue. If they’re still vying for the top in half a decade, Reynolds could stay with the crew until beyond the 2025 season, especially with Cain’s contract expiring after this year, wiping $18 million off the books. Transaction options are plentiful for Milwaukee with Reynolds on the list.
Some may wonder why pirates would trade off a young, controllable star in the making. The truth is that “rebuilding” Pittsburgh is not progressing very quickly. In fact, they actually lost more games in 2021 (101) than they did in 2019 (93), the last full MLB season. It’s not clear when the big-league club will be ready to compete, which means Reynolds will be quickly close to free agency and priced higher by the time Pittsburgh may be ready. Trading Reynolds now will bring the Pirates higher, at or near the ready odds for MLB to start changing that thing.
This brings us to the cost per trade. What would David Stearns have to give up to convince the Pirates to move Reynolds, especially within the band?
It all starts with Aaron Ashby. Pittsburgh prospects desperately need elite talent in rotation. Electric Ashby stuff with a mid-’90s fastball, bad slider, and sophisticated change with great action. Despite ranking eighth in the Milwaukee system, he proved in 2021 that he can handle many situations at the big league level and make many believers in his All-Star potential. Giving Ashby a guaranteed place to rotate for an entire season at PNC Park can lift Ashby to another level quickly.
It wouldn’t be an easy decision watching Ashby’s attained potential from afar, but the way Milwaukee was going out and developing her arms, the sting would be weaker than in the past. They haven’t had the same success with baby bats, so it makes sense from that perspective as well.
After Ashby, they still wanted a high-quality multi-piece – of course, similar to what the Miami Marlins received for Yelich (this did not work out well for Miami). I think top potential Garrett Mitchell will probably take it too (51st on MLB.com’s Top 100 list). Many fans are excited to see Mitchell on The Show soon, but expectations are not guaranteed and most “experts” see him as an above average player. At 23 with that meh sign – it’s worth it to trade him in for someone like Reynolds when you’re a legitimate contender for the title.
Which other two Pittsburghs would you like in a 4-for-1 swap? Would they have an interest in Milwaukee’s number three prospect, shortstop Price Turing? He’s no longer in prestige (in my opinion), but Pittsburgh may be intrigued. There will likely be another jar (or two) of interest. Brewers have a lot of guns in the system with the upside (like Antoine Kelly), which means they should be willing to please Pittsburgh a little while still feeling good about the rest of the pitchers they keep.
Is this trade likely to happen? Mostly not. There are challenges including split deals hesitation, public opinion in Pittsburgh if Reynolds goes, how much the pirates really want… and can Milwaukee afford the losses? I’ve always been someone who believes you’re dealing for “certain things”, even if you’re giving away the best potential clients. This is mostly because the best potential clients often miss out.
If you are Stearns and Brewers, remember that “wealth favors the bold.” Milwaukee’s elite performances make them at the big boy table, but if they want a crown at the World Championships, a nail bat will be needed in the recipe.
Statistics provided by FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference