Monday’s Spring Training game was about as close to a potential regular season lineup as we’ve seen early on, but it came with an interesting wrinkle in it: Bryan Reynolds was in left field.
Reynolds has played left field before. Although he only did it once in 2022, he’s started there 122 times since making the majors.
So, it’s nothing really new for him, but of course, since really taking over as the team’s best player, he’s been the primary center fielder.
Late in the 2022 season, he slid over to left field to allow Ji-Hwan Bae to play center field, a position the latter had been working into his repertoire for the last year plus.
Now in his first appearance of 2023, Reynolds started in left field, sliding over for Jack Suwinski, who played center before being lifted for Travis Swaggerty later in the game.
Reynolds put up the seventh worst Outs Above Average (OAA) among qualified outfielders last year on Baseball Savant, and didn’t fare much better on Fangraphs and Baseball Reference.
While it could theoretically throw another layer into any contract negotiations, the move to left could help the team when it comes to the bigger picture, as long as they find the right fit to fill in at center field.
Suwinksi generally graded out positively defensively last year, but has spent the majority of his minor league career on the corners. Swaggerty subbed in for him during the game, made two nice catches and recorded a single.
Swaggerty taking that next step and kind of emerging as an option would be huge for the organization, allowing Bae to continue to compete for the second base job or settle in as the team’s super utility player.
Outside of them, Suwinski, Ryan Vilade, and Canaan Smith-Njigba all have some experience playing center field recently and are on the 40-man roster.
Jose Hernandez Debut
Rule 5 pick Jose Hernandez made his Spring debut, walking one, striking out another across 14 pitches while averaging 97 mph on his fastball. I would like to see his slider more in games to come. It generated some swing and miss in Double-A, but overall felt like a pitch that could use some work.
Carmen Mlodzinski Pitches An Inning of Relief
The 2020 Comp A pick for the Pirates also threw an inning, striking out and walking a batter across his 22 pitches in the ninth. Mainly fastball/slider/changeup last year, his breaking ball looked like it had a lot more horizontal movement than years prior.
While it was credited as a ‘cutter’ on Baseball Savant, it had more of that ‘sweeper’ feel to it, which worked as he got whiffs on two of the three swings taken on it, with an overall 40% called strike/whiff rate.
He started to work things out towards the end of the season, and he looks to stay in the rotation picture in 2023.
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**The Pirates lost to the Phillies 9-7. Wilbur Miller breaks down the game.
**In the latest Pirates DVR, Ke’Bryan Hayes homers, plus Quinn Priester and Malcom Nunez are featured.
**Number one draft prospect Dylan Crews had a big weekend with LSU. John Dreker breaks it down in the first Draft Prospect Watch of the year. If you missed it over the weekend, check out our early 2023 MLB Draft preview.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony looked at the battle between Mike Burrows and Nick Gonzales in a simulated game.
Song of the Day
Pirates are at home against the Baltimore Orioles. Game is televised, with a 1:05 PM start time
The squad vs. Baltimore. pic.twitter.com/hiXC3a9aej
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) February 28, 2023
Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.
Statcast summary of today’s game
As long as he swings at strikes he should be really productive
A smash by CSN
This type of AB would concern me more than Nick G swinging thru 3 straight strikes
From Nick G’s former college teammate
And a 50 grade prospect at FG
Not a great AB
That’s some good pace from Lolo
can´t say Ive ever seen this
I had closed out of MLB tv, and only just turned it back on to see what you were talking about lol
I couldn’t see the end of the broadcast. What went down??
They played the bottom of the 9th, so O’s pitcher could get his work in.
I think it happened a couple of times last spring, but not 100% sure.
Much obliged for the info!
Andres Alvarez had a nice smoked single up the middle. Nothing else much happened.
Surprised at&t staying with it!
What did I miss???
they played the bottom of the ninth with the home team up and no umps
THanks! I am with you, can’t say that I had witnessed it before either……Guess I still did not witness it…….
Take that haters
Hahaha I was waiting to see how quickly you’d be back on the bandwagon! Nicky G. needed that.
I want to believe!
Zas doesn’t seem to have an out pitch. Just another pitch-to-contact arm.
i bet Reynolds ends up in CF vs lefties, and suwi vs righties
June, Vs Righties:
RF (Mitchell/Njigba competition), cutch chips in
DH Santana, cutch chips in
June, Vs lefties
idk. i know cutch says he’s mostly a DH at this point. this team just still feels one RH OF short, if thats the case.
The goal is for some of our Uber prospects too force “the vets” to the bench, another team “trade” or the street by August 1.
big game for chavez
He’s putting himself at least on the radar with this game.
Chavez young was a sneaky good trade, true centerfielder switch hitter with a ++ arm, for Zach Thompson in a dfa trade.
+1 Tucu on the stolen base
Tucu better than Bae. Now I will duck and hide.
Luis ortiz for cy young
How’s he looking? velo?
FB in consistently 96-97, allowed 5 balls over 94 mph in the first which wasn’t great but underlying metrics are fake. Second inning was smooth with a K of franchy coming back from down 3-0
Three locks. Joe is close to a lock, but he has does have options left if he struggles all spring. I have the 13th position player spot going to Chris Owings. This means there is room for only 4 OFs. I have Cal Mitchell as the 27th man. Once the season gets rolling, I could see Njigba separating himself from the other AAAA players. This front office seems to dislike Swaggerty. Ryan Vilade….whatever.
The conventional wisdom that pirates don’t like Swaggerty is lazy thinking. There is no evidence of this. He didn’t get a shot last year because he had a premature infant in Indy hospital and the team let him stay in town.
Listening to Nutting yesterday he is high on Swaggerty, as he should be. Looks like a natural in CF and seeing pitches better.
is this the game thread?
Lets Go Bucs!
Joe’s playing 1B today. Wonder when we’re going to see Choi?
hopefully in Minnesota
Any thoughts why I am getting all of your replies in my email and my notifications? Did you turn something on that I am unaware of?
all powerful oz
The score made the game seem closer than it was. It was a blowout from the start.
It would’ve been fun had Nunez jacked one to tie it, tho.
For former Pirates Pitchers who are injured: Joe Musgrove is out indefinitely due to a fractured toe caused by a weight room accident. Tyler Glasnow now has an injured oblique and out for a while and not expected to start the season on time. Ouch for both guys.
wonder if the Dodgers would be interested in Peguero?
Trade them Cruz and fleece them, and put in a better fielding SS.
I figured this would be your cue to suggest we trade Bru to the Rays or Padres.
brings up an interesting question of once spring training is over, what´s the point of all these veterans like Hill, Santana, etc… ?
Actually better quality placeholders until on of the next wave is ready to take their place later this year and trade them to get a decent prospect to replace the promoted player in the system. That is the point
I guess until June
They’re going to need someone at SS. Without Lux, that lineup looks very ordinary after Betts, Freeman, Smith, and Muncy.
I don’t think Peguero is MLB ready, tho.
I heard rodolfo for bobby miller
I hereby volunteer to Fly to Florida, Pack up Rudolfo, get him to the airport and escort him to Arizona, help Miller finish packing, get him to the airport and escort him back to Bradenton. 🙂
Brubaker for taj bradley, do you mind making a few extra stops?
Why not?!? 🙂
bet they wish they still had Tony Watson
I can understand switching Reynolds to left, but I’m scratching my head with Suwinski playing center. I love his bat, but I wasn’t impressed with his speed when he played right field last year. If Cutch is playing the outfield on a regular basis, I would say keep Reynolds in Center and it’s a toss up between Suwinski and Cutch as to who plays which corner spot. However, if Cutch is not an every-day player, then I would seriously look at either Bae, Swaggerty, or Gorski for center field, because they have much better speed.
Agree with your last sentence 100%.
Not thinking that Suwinski will be the go to guy in CF. I am guessing just a ST appearance to see what he looks like out there in case of an emergency.
I think I am leaning towards LF Reynolds CF Swaggerty RF Suwinski. My position players would be 1B Choi, 2B Castro, SS Cruz, 3B Hayes, C Hedges, DH McCutchen bench Santana, Bae, Plawecki, and Joe. Obviously I think there will be a platoon with Santana and Choi at 1B, DH with Cutch, Choi, and Santana and OF Swags, Cutch, Joe and Suwinski.
I’d let Bae play lots of 2b and CF, too.
I totally agree with this — but I have a feeling they will be stubborn & pick Vilade over Swaggerty. And the threat of going North with Chris Owings over Bae still terrifies me because Bae seems ready & with Owings/Plawecki we would then have two automatic outs every single day on the bench. If Bae keeps flashing leather like yesterday, he might make it really tough for them to credibly go with Owings
If Owings makes them team I will be so annoyed. I don’t think Villade has a chance either, I’d put swags, Mitchell, CSN, Joe, and Andujar above him.
Cherington’s comments about Swaggerty were encouraging so I’m hopeful he’ll be given a real chance to earn the CF position. He is not someone that I’d worry about losing a year of control. OTOH, with Bae I’d probably send him down for a few weeks to gain the extra year of control.
Vilade is not a good CFer.
Vilade is not good. (fixed it for you)
I’ll buy that correction! And throw in a tip!
“this is my spot”
From what I’ve read and seen regarding their defense, my ideal OF alignment from LF to RF is Reynolds, Swaggerty, Suwinski with Bae as a super utility player. Obviously, Swaggerty and Suwinski need to hit to keep their spots.
I’d let Bae play lots of 2b and CF. Speed will be paramount in the ‘new game’.
Also read in the writeup that Suwinski dropped a pop up in CF yesterday. I’d rather see Swaggerty get time in CF than Suwinski. Doesn’t look like Conner Joe has any experience out there.
Playing OF at McKechnie Field has never been easy.
Swaggerty came in and got as many innings as Jack. I believe he is already slated to get at least half a season of runway in the majors to see what he has, whether in April or later on. No way they cut bait without trying him.
Reynolds, Swag and Suwinski would be our best defensive OF, imo.
Interesting tactic by Shelty and BC. Piss off the guy you are trying to do an extension for! This pretty much tells me there’s no deal until next winter…..it’s not imminent.
If I remember correctly they went to him last season before they shifted him over to left for that one game how he felt about it. So he knew this was something that could happen going into the offseason
You didn’t finish your sentence……”how he felt about it”. IIRC he was not pleased and wants to continue playing CF. I’m not suggesting long-term, but don’t you want to kinda pamper the guy who just asked to be traded if you are really trying to reach a deal here in ST??
In the long run, pampering will not necessarily give you an edge in getting a deal done either. I still believe Reynolds and his agent are seeking a figure that would take him ~6 years into his FA years. He wants what he believes he would be worth for ~6years after the the 2025 season as if he settles for less years how into his FA years, he will get much less for those later years when he gets to FA again. Being nice will not get him to accept less than he feels he is worth.
Being nice…….and isn’t that exactly what Nutting did, by greeting B Rey on the field one of the first days of ST. If they really wanted to do a deal before Opening Day, you would just leave him in CF……that’s my entire point.
I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. He shouldn’t be in center, because he’s not a good one. Shouldn’t players be in their best positions?
I’m only talking about the relationship strategy being employed. BRey wants to stay in CF last I knew.
So much will depend on how well the CF plays. Reynolds will know if Swaggerty, Suwinski, Bae, or whoever is an upgrade. If they’re not, he has a right to be upset. If they are, I’m sure he’ll be happy that the team has improved. For now, it’s definitely the right move to try to find a clearly plus defender for CF.
Reynolds is a pro. If he gets pissed off because the team rightly acknowledges that he isn’t a CF then let him walk in a few years. We kept Cutch in CF way past when Marte should have been there and I find it refreshing that they may not do that again.
The fact is, both the following can be true: 1) that the Pirates are cheap and 2) that Reynolds doesn’t deserve 8/134 because he isn’t a CF and he is past the age where 8 years makes sense. It isn’t an either/or. Pirates are wrong to be cheap and right to not pay B-Rey like an emerging superstar. He’s a mid career star who needs to change positions.
I don’t think B-Rey will decide what to do based on the position he plays because he knows he can’t play that position. He was 35th worst there last year. There are only 30 teams!!
I agree with most of what you say but Reynolds is worth $112 million over 6 years and the Pirates should pay it if they want to keep up the pretense of being a MLB franchise.
You surely mean eight years??
What if they still spent $112m over six years except not most of it on a left fielder in his mid-30s.
I mean, there’s this…
Year 1 – age 28
year 2 – age 29
year 3 – age 30
year 4 – age 31
year 5 – age 32
year 6 – age 33
112M / 6 = 18.7 per year. Technically, you’re paying 1 year in his mid 30’s.
This is the price of doing business in Major League Baseball in the year 2023. There’s an article at Fangraphs about the Reds -“This is where Cincinnati hits an important decision point. If a team like this looks to be a contender in 2025, would there actually be investment in the roster in free agency to get it over the top? The lack of this was the crucial element that doomed the good 2010s Pirates teams.”
That’s too much for six years; it has to be seven or eight at that price, especially if he’s playing LF.
That’s market value, if you actually believe he’s only worth 3 WAR.
1WAR = 6M
I think he’s more of a 4-win player, but semantics, I guess.
You don’t typically offer contract extensions at “market”, and he isn’t going to accept a six-year deal.
He’s less worried about the AAV and more worried about total dollars. I think you can get to a reasonable number that makes sense for both sides…
Rip up this year’s deal and offer a front-loaded 7/$108, equivalent NPV to a back-loaded 7/$118. I still think this is a bit high for the duration risk, but it bridges the gap between player and team.
You’re hypo deal includes three arb-years, that’s almost $25M per in FA years.
You don’t know that Reynolds would accept a 6 year deal. It has not been reported that he would. He wants 8 years.
Lastly, I would rather put that money toward Cruz and Keller right now before they totally break out.
I wouldn’t go 8. This is the hypothetical proposed by Primate.
They could extend all 3…Look at what Tampa has been doing.
Cruz prob would accept a lower extension than Reynolds or Keller. He’d probably take a Cutch or Marte extension with 2023 inflation.
You can’t have good players and trade them for pie in the sky prospects after 3-4 years. It’s a terrible cycle that needs to be broken.
lol come on Madden.
Trading good players for prospects is inarguably one of the primary ways Tamp has built consistently good teams.
Errybody wanna be Tampa, nobody wanna act like Tampa.
It appears we’re talking about different things.
Yep, precisely my point.
Bryan Reynolds projects to be roughly a 2 WAR player over the last few years of this hypothetical deal, and they’ll be paying him well over $20m annually for those services.
Is that what’s gonna put this club over the top?
Since this is a hypothetical deal, front load it.
Where are you getting over 20? 6 @ 112 = 18.7M/yr.
It doesn’t put the club over the top, but it’s a start. Players of BRey’s ilk don’t grow on trees. They have to show in good faith they’re serious about fielding a competitive squad. inking Reynolds is a start.
They already control the first three below market rates through arbitration, which effectively puts the price of his buy-out years well above $20m.
Front loading it just spends money now on a future marginal player.
You’re correct, players like Reynolds do not grow on trees which is precisely why successful clubs build around them during their cheapest and most productive years.
Clubs give stars long term contracts with the acceptance of relatively poor performance at the end specifically so that they can spread out the investment and win with the player at his peak.
The Pirates have instead chosen to tank during Reynolds’ peak, when he will be cheapest. That’s where we’re at.
I’m open to an argument that an extension is a feel-good story and they’ll somehow avoid the inevitable fury that will come at the end of the deal.
I’m open to an argument that says Bryan Reynolds will defy aging and maintain 3+ WAR performance well into his 30s.
But short of that I humbly suggest there’s far better ways to spend this kind if money if the goal is winning baseball games.