Discover more from Shea Bridge Report
Be careful with Bryan Reynolds
The Pirates outfielder is a good player, but he's not worth a wild overpay
Carlos Correa is headed to the Twins, in case you haven’t heard. The Mets were looking for a power hitter; Correa’s deal with the Giants fell apart; the Mets agreed to a similar deal with him; that deal also fell apart; now, it turns out, the Twins are willing to take him on, under the assumption — I assume — that whatever is wrong with his ankle will hold up for six or seven years, but not twelve or thirteen.
So the Mets, in their quest for power, will have to turn elsewhere. One option? Bryan Reynolds of the Pirates, a winning player on a losing team who has hit 51 home runs over the past two seasons while batting .283/.368/.492. Reynolds has already requested a trade, he seems to be the best power bat available, and after losing out on Correa, the Mets — under Steve Cohen, they’ve tended to do this — may look to make a splash.
Reynolds is a good player. No one is saying otherwise. But he also has his shortcomings, and there are enough questions about his game that the Mets shouldn’t be willing to overpay in a potential trade.
Reynolds broke out in 2021, when he batted .302/.390/.522 with 24 home runs. He was a star on defense, with an OAA in the 98th percentile and a sprint speed in the 88th. His season added up to 6.1 fWAR and 6.0 bWAR, and ended with an 11th place finish in the NL MVP voting.
His 2022 season…wasn’t as good.
Reynolds batted .262/.345/.461. He struck out more and walked less. His 2021 numbers were lifted by a .345 BABIP that was likely an outlier; in 2022, his BABIP fell to a more average .306, and his stat line fell with it. His defense also regressed in a way that was almost dumbfounding: his OAA fell from the 98th percentile to the 6th.
To be clear, Reynolds is still a very good player, probably better than his 2022 numbers showed. But so far, he’s not a superstar, and the Mets shouldn’t give up a superstar-level package for him.
The Mets already have Mark Canha, and while he’s certainly not a superstar either, he’s a perfectly capable starter. Canha’s fWAR (2.8) and bWAR (2.5) last year, in fact, were almost identical to Reynolds’ 2.9. Reynolds, to be clear, is a better hitter than Canha. But is he so much better that the Mets should make a major sacrifice to land him? “Do anything in order to get the slightest bit better” isn’t a viable strategy. Freddie Freeman is better than Pete Alonso, but the Mets shouldn’t make a blockbuster trade for him, because giving up an enormous prospect haul wouldn’t be worth replacing a first baseman who’s very good already.
I can’t stress this enough — Brian Reynolds is good. It would be great if the Mets traded for him, and if they can get a fair deal, then they absolutely should. But just because he’s an improvement doesn’t make it logical to wildly overpay. A one-pound lobster isn’t as good as a two-pound lobster, but if the first costs $10 and the second costs $100, it’s much more sensible to stick to the one-pounder. That way you have some lobster, and still have $90 left over for other things.
Reynolds’ major advantage over Canha is power, and the Mets could certainly use some more power — couldn’t everybody? But power isn’t a magic ticket to the World Series, and it doesn’t make the tradeoffs of a move for Reynolds disappear. People like to say that power wins in the postseason, but that’s more like a proverb than an immutable fact of life. What’s more, the Mets’ most exciting prospects — Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty, and Kevin Parada — all have enormous power potential themselves.
Judging hypothetical trades before they happen is a tough game, because sometimes the eventual deals are downright strange. I once wrote that the Mets shouldn’t trade for Francisco Lindor because the cost would be too steep, but then Cleveland gave him up for Andrés Giménez and Amed Rosario, and gave the Mets Carlos Carrasco as well. A few years ago, the Rockies traded Nolan Arenado (and $50 million!) to the Cardinals for St. Louis’ No. 8, 19, and 22 prospects. If the Mets can make a similar deal for Reynolds, it’s a no-brainer. But the top of their prospect board should be untouchable.
Would the Mets be better with Bryan Reynolds on the roster in 2023? In a vacuum, of course they would. But trades aren’t vacuums. Baty and Alvarez can play major roles for the 2023 Mets, and in a year or two, Parada can do the same. Reynolds is good, but he’s not top-3 prospect good, and the Mets shouldn’t trade as if he is.