Yankees could still make blockbuster run to upgrade left field

bryan reynolds, yankees, pirates
Sep 13, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates designated hitter Bryan Reynolds (10) reacts after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

With spring training coming up in just a few days, the New York Yankees are waiting patiently to see how the left field position shakes out.

General manager Brian Cashman has already indicated that Estevan Florial, Aaron Hicks, and Oswaldo Cabrera will have their opportunities to win the starting job. At this point, Cabrera seemingly has a leg up on his competition, given his youth and stellar defensive metrics he put forth over a 44-game sample size last year.

However, the Yankees have been keeping tabs on some of the more prominent names that could be moved this upcoming season. Notably, Pittsburgh Pirates star outfielder, Bryan Reynolds.

Reynolds requested a trade several months ago, but Pittsburgh suggested they had no intention of moving one of their best players. However, they floated the idea that a substantial haul in the realm of Juan Soto’s deal could be of interest. Nonetheless, Reynolds is no Soto, and the Yankees aren’t ready to give up some of their top prospects in return for the stud offensive player.

Chris Kirschner of The Athletic suggested the Yankees could still be in play for Reynolds, but it would cost a haul. That package could be reduced if Reynolds simply refuses to continue playing for the Pirates in 2023.

If Reynolds makes it clear that he has no desire to continue his career in Pittsburgh, perhaps it’ll force the Pirates to reconsider their stance. The Yankees need a better option in left field than Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Cabrera.

The Yankees should be in no rush to make a move for Bryan Reynolds:

Ultimately, the longer the Yankees wait, the lower his price tag drops. The main value point is the control over Reynolds since he will become a free agent in 2026. They signed him to a two-year, $13.5 million deal last year to avoid arbitration, but he will be eligible in 2024 once again.

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At such a cheap price point and the fact he’s only 28 years old, Reynolds could change the entire course of the Yankees team this upcoming season, but Cashman should play things conservatively.

As we saw in 2022, the Yankees dominated the first half of the season but fell apart in the second half due to injury and inconsistencies. The better move may be to wait and see if Reynolds is even willing to play for the Pirates after demanding a trade. Cashman could easily wait to see if Pittsburgh lowers their asking price around the trade deadline over the summer, especially with another year passing and the control variable reducing. This strategy also ensures he remains healthy down the stretch. Making a premature move just for an injury to occur would sting.

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Kirschner suggested another package deal that wouldn’t include Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe, instead including other exciting prospects with potential.

Could a package of outfielder Everson Pereira, catcher Austin Wells, right-handed pitcher Clarke Schmidt and right-handed pitcher Clayton Beeter be enough to get it done? The Yankees have title aspirations, and it’s hard imagining them not trying to upgrade left field with the best possible candidate available.

The package does seem a little bit light, including Pereira, Wells, and Schmidt. Throwing in Beeter as an add-on moves the needle marginally, but I can’t imagine a deal that doesn’t include Jasson Dominguez, Peraza, or Volpe. Reynolds would have to insist that he’s not playing for the Pirates anymore and force his way out, which is still an unlikely scenario.

To give you a bit of context on the value that Reynolds holds as a contributor — last season, he hit .262 with a .345 OBP, 27 homers, and 62 RBIs across 145 games. In 2021, he was one of the best offensive players in the game, hitting .302 with a .390 OBP, 24 homers, and 90 RBIs.

Defensively, he fits the left field position far better than CF, where he has a career -16 defensive runs saved. In left, he has seven defensive runs saved across 1080.2 innings. He would slide in seamlessly for the Bombers, giving them one of the best outfields in baseball.