It was reported on Saturday afternoon that the Pittsburgh Pirates were informed that star outfielder Bryan Reynolds requested a trade. Of course, that opens up a fantastic opportunity for the New York Yankees, who have been connected to Reynolds for four years as a potential solution in the outfield.
While acquiring Reynolds may be an alternative in case Aaron Judge departs in free agency, it would allow them to solve a major hole in the outfield while landing one of the top infielders on the market.
Conceivably, general manager Brian Cashman could walk away with Reynolds and a player like Xander Bogaerts, who is projected to play shortstop but eventually transition to another infield role. With Anthony Volpe expected to make the transition in 2023, the Bombers would have premium positions filled for the foreseeable future.
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Yankees mock trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates:
Reynolds has three years left of team control before he hits free agency in 2026. At 27 years old, he hit .262 with a 34.5% on-base rate this past season, including 27 homers and 62 RBIs. As a switch hitter, he would be incredibly valuable for the Yankees, but he doesn’t remotely compare to Judge’s offensive production. Defensively, he’s also considered a minor liability, recording a .993 fielding percentage with two errors over 1,073 innings this past year.
Reynolds ranks in the 23rd percentile in outfielder jump but does have solid sprint speed, landing in the 75th percentile. He also ranks in the 80th percentile in arm strength, so he does have some decent metrics that suggest he can be a quality defender.
Nonetheless, the other outfielders on the market don’t compare, with the second-best option being Brandon Nimmo to replace Judge if he walks.
Cashman will have to give up significant capital to acquire Reynolds in the first place, which could be a deterrent.
Right off the bat, the Yankees would have to give up Oswald Peraza, which is justifiable if they manage to go out and sign a top shortstop after acquiring Reynolds. Peraza looked sharp over a small sample size this past season, hitting .306 with a 40.4% on-base rate, including one homer and two RBIs over 18 games.
At 22 years old, he is ripe to make the transition as an everyday starter, and with minimal expectations in Pittsburgh, he would be able to reach his ultimate potential.
In fact, there’s a possibility that Peraza ends up more valuable than Reynolds at the end of the day, but trading prospects for proven talent is a tale as old as time.
In addition to Peraza, the Yankees also include Everson Pereira as a part of the package. At 21 years old, Pereira spent 73 games in High-A Hudson Valley and 29 games with Double-A Somerset last season. Combined, he hit .277 with a 35% on-base rate, including 14 homers and 56 RBIs. As an outfielder, he is quickly approaching the Major League level, and the Pirates could elevate him to replace Reynolds in the near future.
Pereira is one of the Yankees’ top prospects, and given he hit .283 with a 34.2% on-base rate over 113 at-bats in Double-A, he clearly is capable of making the transition to higher levels of talent seamlessly.
As the final piece to the puzzle, the Bombers give up lefty prospect Austin Wells. Wells played in Low-A and Double-A this past season. He spent 55 games with Somerset, hitting .261 with a 36% on-base rate, including 12 homers and 43 RBIs.
The Yankees are extremely high on his offensive qualities as a lefty catcher, so it would be difficult to give up. However, for a proven commodity like Reynolds, it is going to take a haul, and the Yankees ultimately give up the necessary pieces so they can solidify the infield and outfield for years to come.