Amidst the ongoing Aaron Judge negotiations, the Yankees appear to also have an eye on Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds.
On Saturday, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Reynolds requested a trade. The following day, he added the Yankees were “very much in” on the switch-hitting outfielder. This isn’t surprising, considering the Yankees need an outfielder on top of re-signing Judge and Reynolds hit .262 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and a .807 OPS in 2022.
First things first, the Yankees shouldn’t be pursuing any other players until Judge is re-signed. It doesn’t matter if the rest of the market dries up along the way. The reigning MVP is first priority and it’s not the end of the world if New York stands pat after securing a new deal for him.
Furthermore, Mackey notes that the Pirates aren’t rushing to move Reynolds, who has many suitors besides the Yankees.
But if Judge is the Yankees’ first priority, Reynolds certainly makes a suitable second. On top of being a switch-hitter with power, he turns 28 in January and has two years of team control left. He’ll earn $6.75 million in 2023, the back half of a two-year deal he signed with Pittsburgh last winter.
There’s one slight hiccup in that the Yankees already have Harrison Bader in centerfield, and his elite glove isn’t moving anywhere. Reynolds is also prone to strikeouts and saw his walk rate (BB%) dip to 9.1%, down from 11.6% the year before. He also has a -16 DRS in center for his career, and the Yankees need to figure out what to do with Aaron Hicks before adding any more outfielders.
New York would still be foolish to not seriously pursue Reynolds. His swing fits Yankee Stadium. Plus, a move to left wouldn’t be the worst since Reynolds is actually better in the corners. He has a combined +10 DRS in both left and right, yet the Pirates insisted on playing him in center.
Again, Reynolds is not someone the Yankees need to be prioritizing now. Every other player is small potatoes until Judge makes his decision. Not to mention, the Yankees also seem interested in Japanese star Masataka Yoshida.
But it’s also hard to ignore that this situation is one general manager Brian Cashman knows all too well. Reynolds turned down a contract extension to request a trade. That leaves Pittsburgh with little room to make demands. Fans won’t have to worry about Jasson Dominguez or Anthony Volpe being shipped to the Steel City for Reynolds.
Rather, Cashman can probably use Reynolds’ declined extension against the Pirates. If they were willing to make him the highest-paid Pirate ever, then they can easily take on a good chunk of Aaron Hicks’ contract. Deivi Garcia also continues to struggle in the minors. Maybe this is a way to sweeten an offer to Pittsburgh and also get the young righty a change of scenery.
One way or another, Reynolds is a good fit in New York. At least on paper. The Yankees need outfield help regardless of where Judge signs. If he walks, adding someone like Reynolds shortly after would cushion the blow of that loss.
But Reynolds needs to be on the back burner, at least for now. Until Judge is back in pinstripes, no other moves matter.