The Seattle Mariners are going into the offseason with a question mark in center field. Is Kyle Lewis going to be healthy? Can Kyle Lewis even be relied upon? Can Jarred Kelenic play center field? Can Julio Rodriguez play center field? All of these questions are centered around the center field position for the Mariners in 2022 and beyond. Jerry Dipoto spoke about the position for 2022 and did not seem to have a firm answer to who will play center field consistently. Enter Bryan Reynolds.
A disclaimer. Dipoto has said he isn’t trading any top prospects, and we acknowledge that. However, we are tossing that out the window for what would potentially be a win/win for both sides.
One candidate for the position is Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds. Reynolds has had a very under-the-radar start to his career in Pittsburgh. He has had 2 full seasons of at least 500 plate appearances in 2019, 2021. In those two seasons, Reynolds has had a batting average of over .300 and an OPS+ of at least 130.
If the Mariners want to trade for this young emerging star, it is going to cost a lot. The prospect return will hurt. It might seem like too much, but remember that all prospects are risks. No one can say for certain how good any player in the Mariners system will be. Trading for Brian Reynolds would be cashing in the lottery ticket of a highly ranked prospect for a current star performer at the Major League Level.
The first thing here is wow, the Mariners are trading away Noelvi Marte, why would they do that? They would be trading in the future potential of Marte, who may not even be a shortstop long-term, to get the current All-Star production of Reynolds. Jason Churchill, the host of the Baseball Things Podcast, shares some insight on why he would trade Marte for Bryan Reynolds.
The words of Jason Churchill here say exactly why the Mariners should not be too hesitant to trade Marte for him. The risk is there, but the current reward is great. At the trade deadline, the Pirates were asking for Julio Rodriguez in return for Bryan Reynolds. The Mariners would almost certainly not trade Rodriguez for him, who has himself been exceeding even the highest expectations.
Another reaction to this could be, why are the Mariners trading Kyle Lewis, he was the Rookie of the Year? While that is true, Lewis won the award because of a really hot first half of the 60 game 2020 season. He cooled off significantly over the final 30 games of that year. Also, Lewis has not been able to stay healthy for a lengthy amount of time. He has lots of talent, but the Mariners have become increasingly impatient with Lewis and his injury rehab, so he could be dealt.
The Mariners also send away Levi Stoudt, who had a nice breakout year last year in 2021, but the Mariners have lots of pitching depth to deal from. The Mariners would not be trading one of their top pitching prospects, even though they lost Marte, a great position player prospect. Stoudt reached AA last year and could be ready for the big leagues in 2 years or less, depending on how he does in 2022.
Now, why would the Mariners make this trade? They would be acquiring a player who will help them immediately and in the future. While Jerry Dipoto did say that he was not too interested in trading his top prospects, he did also add the caveat that they would listen to offers where they get more than one year of club control. The Mariners get 4 years of Bryan Reynolds, who would be immediately the best offensive player on the Mariners.
Now to why the Pirates would make this trade. The Pirates are not a good baseball team, at all. They have very poor talent on their roster and need to build their farm system. There is one key question that they should consider to make this trade a reality. Who is more likely to be on the next good Pirates team, Bryan Reynolds or Noelvi Marte? You could argue that the answer is Reynolds, but if Reynolds stays, he just has to wait for talent around him to develop.
If the Pirates trade for Marte, Lewis, and Stoudt then the probability that the next playoff team for the Pirates is impacted by those three is higher than just Reynolds. The Pirates are years from seriously competing, so getting a very young player with a high ceiling as the headline of a package for Reynolds would help them grow for the future.
Both sides of this trade should seriously consider this offer and think about the long-term ceilings of the overall value. The Mariners would be acquiring a player to help them pursue their winning window now, while the Pirates would receive three players who would better align with the future winning window of their organization. The cost for the Mariners would hurt initially, but Brian Reynolds would push the Mariners to be a much better team for the next four years.