Pirates Prospects Daily: ZiPS Projections and The Bryan Reynolds Saga

Bryan Reynolds may be the best player on the Pittsburgh Pirates right now, but the current conversation isn’t so much about his play on the field, but his contract status.

After requesting a trade in the offseason, nothing has really changed now that we are in camp. Both sides seems entrenched in entering the season in the current situation.

For the Pirates, an extension would mean reaching deep into their pockets and signing a player to what would end up being a franchise record deal for the second consecutive offseason. It would lock up another potential core piece for the future.

The whole situation has been fascinating (and to be honest, exhausting) to watch play out. 

Obviously the Pirates have a certain reputation when it comes to contracts and star players that this whole thing is kind of playing into. With the current economics of baseball, and a slew of prospects ready to come up, committing to someone whose contract would take them into their mid-30s isn’t something you usually see out of small market teams.

A recent article on Fangraphs on Reynolds speaks a little to just why there is always some hesitation. Trying to forecast his future production using ZiPS projections, and there is a pretty clear down spiral in his on the field performance.

He goes from having an 123 OPS+, all the way down to league average by 2029, and just about every statistical category drops in that time.

The main reason? He will be 30-years-old by time he hits free agency, so it’s projecting a natural dip in performance in his post-prime years.

On the flip side of things, the Pirates are obviously starting to shift things into more of a win-now approach after signing or trading for multiple veterans during the offseason.

It would be a weird turn to trade your best player, more than likely for more prospects, and potentially set the team back yet another season.

So, what’s the answer? There may not actually be a correct one at this point. There will come a time where the team needs to really show they are committed to putting together a winning team, and keeping them.

But is Reynolds that guy you break the bank with? And if not him, then who? It’s hard to argue against signing a proven All-Star, who’s been among the best outfielders in baseball the last couple of years — especially at some of the terms that have been reported.

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

**The latest Pirates DVR looks at a Bryan Reynolds live BP against Mitch Keller, a Roansy Contreras bullpen, and looks at Oneil Cruz and Dylan Crews.

**Ethan Hullihen has his latest Pirates Business column, looking into the topic of service time manipulaton.

**What kind of impact will Endy Rodriguez make in 2023? Anthony breaks down the expectations.

**Yerry De Los Santos has a sinker/slider combo that plays well off each other. I’m not sure if he makes the Opening Day bullpen, but I do think he ends the season as one of the better relievers on the team.

**Missed yesterday? Anthony wrote about the first full team workout.

Song of the Day

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.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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I think the team doesn’t want to extend him for more than a year or two beyond his arb years because his performance, quite likely, will be rolling off then. That said, I can see extending him in a front-loaded deal that makes him more tradeable as a better value even with declining production later.

But, I believe the better scenario is to just pay him for his arb years and build around him now to keep him (and us) happy. This gives him the opportunity to become a FA and get his one big pay day just after his prime years. If he’d go for a team option year or two beyond his arb years and declining the option would still allow them to get compensation (a la a declined QO), then add those. But I don’t think he wants to be a FA OFer at 32/33 still looking for a big contract – unless his agent convinces him that he will defy time.

If he was a consistent 5 WAR guy, I might argue more for paying him longer term. BTW, given Endy’s timing, I don’t think he’ll get a long term deal (assuming he pans out) either given his age and position. If Cruz has a good first half, I’d start talking extension with him.


I often like Szymborski’s writing but he didn’t do a great job with this article. The crux of the argument should be based on Reynolds’ value in ’24-’28, say, when we expect to contend and his ~3 WAR could be the difference in making the playoffs or not.

However, he more-or-less brushed this aside by using his ZIPS projections to assume the Pirates won’t even have a winning record before Reynolds would hit free agency and, therefore, couldn’t be expected to contend by ’26 or even ’27 (teams don’t typically go from 76 wins to contending within a year or two). With that premise, yeah, we should go ahead and trade him. But if Cherington and staff can’t find a way to put a contender on the field by ’25, then we shouldn’t only be unloading Reynolds…


good point on Dan’s analysis, but i think you may be missing somethign in your analysis too.

let’s assume the pirates trade reynolds today. they’d have prospects and freed money adding to 24-28. It’s not entirely unreasonable to think that a few guys acquired in a trade who are in AA today could be helping the pirates as soon as 2024. the nearly 30 million theyre set to pay him in 24 and 25 in arbitration would also be freed to be spent on other things.

Let’s even cut out the trade angle. let’s just say that the pirates just keep reynolds thru his arb years. Theyll offer him a qualifying offer. maybe he takes it, maybe he doesnt. who knows. but if he moves on, the money they could give him in a long term extension – say 20 mil per year -can be spent on other things.

back to your point about a 3 WAR player being needed…. they can buy a different one. and also if they *trade* him, they can buy a different one and also have the prospects debut soon.

ultimately, it’s awfully hard to account for everything in a discussion like this.

for me, its as simple as “take him year to year with arbitration and qualifying offer, and try to win in that time. if he’s gonna get emotional and throw a fit about that setup, then he should be traded. 2024 is a target win year no matter what.”

Last edited 1 month ago by jaygray007

I’m okay with taking him year-to-year but I think the lack of an extension will become a distraction.

What I worry about with a trade is how often teams get burned trading a 4 WAR player for prospects. While Cherington’s success rate per trade is pretty good, as someone pointed out, his success rate per prospect acquired isn’t that good. And that’s probably pretty typical. If we trade him, it needs to be a lot closer to the Giles for Bay and Perez trade than the Bay for LaRoche, Moss, and others trade. And it definitely can’t be another Marte-type trade. So, given concerns with both taking him year-to-year and with trading him, I’m opting for extending him (assuming they can compromise between the two reported figures).


Back for another year! Here begins my daily odds on making the Opening Day roster. As a reminder, anyone who is at 100% is a lock to make the roster (barring injury or trade). Anyone who is less than 100% accounts for the idea there could be an injury or trade in front of them on the depth chart. Without further ado:
Austin Hedges………..100%
Tyler Heineman………..60%
Kevin Plawecki…………40%
Jason Delay…………….10%
Endy Rodriguez…………0%
Carter Bins……………….0%
Henry Davis………………0%
Hedges will make the team. I currently project the incumbent, Heineman, as a slight favorite over the new guy, Plawecki. Delay would need at least one injury to have a shot at making the team. Sorry Endy fans. Even if he hits .800 in Spring Training, he’s destined for AAA.


Here is the part that is upsetting:
Pirates reportedly were at 6/75 (AAV $12.5 million) & Reynolds around 8/130 (AAV $16.25m).

So for two of those years, the delta is $4 million — far less than the couch change we throw away EVERY SINGLE YEAR on roster-filling retreads who do nothing to improve the team. And as for the difference for the remaining two years: The guy just publicly said he wants a fair deal, Not a club friendly deal, not a player friendly deal, not highest bidder, not I’m-better-than-Brandon-Nimmo-so-I-demand-X: but a fair deal — and we can’t accommodate that? This is all on Nutting’s Pirates.

But wait, we made Reynolds “the highest extension offer in Pirate history.” Nice PR. It’s easy to ask a supermodel to go on your most expensive date ever when the benchmark is Shoney’s circa 2004


He’s not good enough to warrant an 8 year deal over the life of that 8 years. And the Pirates are not THAT dumb. They’ll never go more than 6 and 90, and maybe that gets it done.


I also don’t get the desire to trade a player with 3 full years of control left, especially when you’re aiming to compete in 2/3 of those years. If we just signed one of the better OFs in baseball for 3/$40 million this offseason, we certainly wouldn’t be clamoring to trade him already, we’d be gearing up for contention in ’24 and ’25. Maybe we ride out these 3 years and extend a QO or re-sign to a modest deal once it is apparent what his true value is as a 31 y/o LF exiting his prime.

Let’s learn a lesson from our old friend Josh Bell. We were so afraid we’d either not be able to afford him once he hit FA, or miss our chance at dealing him while he still had value. Looking back, we missed out on two 3+ WAR seasons while our 1B position flailed, Yean/Crowe have not impressed & Bell signed for a modest 2/$30 mil as a 30 y/o FA.


This is really an argument against rebuilding, for which I agree, but that decision has been made and this is the bed we have to sleep in.


I understand the Bell situation happened during the tear-down, but I am mostly taking aim at the notion that “we can’t afford to keep him long-term, so we must trade him at his peak value”.

If he is good enough to price the Pirates out of his services & they’re intent on trading him, he should still get a decent package in the 24-25 offseason or as a rental at the ’25 deadline. So you’re getting a lesser prospect package, but you’re also getting 2-2.5 years of what should be an good-great player.


But to what end?

I totally get if you’re just a big Reynolds fan and enjoy watching him play for your favorite team, I do too!

But they drug their feet on trading both Bell and Frazier – let alone f*cking Vazquez – when they knew damn well they were never gonna build around them and got little to nothing as a result.

Shitty big league clubs + little long term help is sort of the lose-lose when we’re stuck in these awful rebuilding cycles.


I often wonder if NH didn’t trade Vasquez because he knew of the police investigation. Say what you want about him, but he was(is) an ethical man.


When you’re rebuilding, sure, trade everyone at peak value and get as much prospect capital as you can and embrace the tank. When you’re in, or entering, a window of contention, you should be adding, not subtracting, from your core.

Let’s forget about Bell and shift to Gerrit Cole. Top flight SP, 2 years of control traded for Joe Musgrove + flotsam in a year (2018) where the Pirates were trying to contend which led us to the infamous Archer trade.

Of course hindsight is 20/20, and who knows how the dominoes fall if things were different, but I’m sure the 2018 Pirates would have benefitted from having a true Ace receiving Cy Young votes & could have gotten a similar package if they traded him the following offseason or at the ’19 deadline.


Now you’re talkin’!


When people talk about the Pirates and Reynolds, I never hear about how stupid it has been for the Pirates to not spend enough to put a team around Reynolds while he’s having his best career years. That’s the big point that gets missed in these discussions.


I actually agree with you on this one Mike. Pirates definitely should’ve been trying to win the last couple years.

But to play devils advocate, if they had made an earnest effort to win, we would not have Davis, Termarr Johnson, Bubba, Solomento, and whomever is picked 1st this year (Dylan Crews?).




Are you suggesting I need to post MOAR?? 😉

This is my entire thing! Makes no sense to me to spend a ton of money on him for his worst years when they refused to spend any on the team in his best.


Yes, stop being a big shot writer and post more! e.g. where have you gone BnP?


I was wondering!


Let’s start with the fact that signing Reynolds, or anyone else, would not “break any bank.” The Pirates have the money but choose not to spend it.

Everyone knows that Nutting cares about money more than anything else and has remained reluctant to spend very much of it, but if he is the businessman some have claimed perhaps it’s time he relearns that the best way to earn more money in a business is to spend money to make it better.

According to a recent article in San Diego Union-Tribune the Padres, who operate in a market size smaller than the Pirates do, are now in the position of needing to pay into revenue sharing because they are making so much more money since they’ve become winners. Their payroll has gone up but so has their revenue because of fan interest and sponsorship. They spent money to make money and it worked.

Someone needs to convince the Pirate ownership that a business that refuses to grow will eventually become insignificant and one that spends to expand and improve will thrive. The Padres are proving it can work in MLB regardless of market size.

Wake up Bob! You want to get richer, right?


The Pirates will always have a reason for why they will not sign the talent they have developed. Sure the market has skyrocketed and we may not like that, but if the object of the game is to WIN, then get in or get out.

They cry poor, but where are they in the value of the franchises that are posted by Forbes in April of each year? Are they 30th – NO, 25th – NO. They are actually No. 23 with an estimated value of $1.32 Billion. Just ahead of them are B’more $1.37 Bil, D-Backs $1.38 Bil, Rockies $1.385 Bil, Twins $1.39 Bil, Tigers $1.40 Bil, Padres $1.575 Bil, and No. 16, Seattle $1.7 Bil. Milwaukee is No. 25, Cincy is No. 26. Is it surprising that 3 of the recent big spenders – Seattle, San Diego, and Minnesota are that close in franchise Value?

Almost all of the owners of MLB teams are in it to win it. They think it is important to keep the fans coming to the ballpark. We just happen to be fans of a team whose owner could care less about winning or if the fans ever return except for fireworks nights! The City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, and the whole tri-state area deserve better.


let’s think about how things would look for 2024 if the team deals reynolds. i ~think~ payroll would project to somewhere in the 40-45 mil range if they keep reynolds, so let’s just say it’d be something like 33 without reynolds.

and then we must factor in the trade return. Let’s say they could get something in the ballpark of, idk, Kumar Rocker and Evan Carter for him. That feels low to me but lets keep it conservative.

Off the top of my head that puts a 2024 team as something in the ballpark of…

Mitchell/Njigba, Carter, Suwinski, hayes, cruz, gonzales/bae, Nunez/FA’s, Davis, Endy, Triolo

Keller Roansy Priester Burrows Ortiz Kumar Brubaker, etc

that roster is dirt cheap at 33ish million. let’s assume they can increase it 15 mil above what it is this year. that puts them at flirting with 90 mil. which means they could easily add 60 million worth of players.

b mcferren

Julio Urias make it happen


How much over market value would Pirates have to offer Urias to come pitch in Pittsburgh? Not happening.


i think more people need to be factoring the Qualifying Offer into their calculations because the team almost certainly is.

the pirates either have him thru age 30, plus have a comp pick coming, or have him thru age 31 if reynolds accepts the QO.

the QO needs to be factored into all this – trades, extensions, keeping him – whatever.

lets not act for a second like they wont be doing high fives in the offices if/when reynolds declines the qualifying offer

Last edited 1 month ago by jaygray007

Unless he has some terrible years in his prime (or his last arb year), there’s no way he’d take the QO. This will be his one chance to land a really big contract from some GM that believes Reynolds will be one of the few guys that defy the aging cliff. He might be. But I think the guys that hold up best after 30 are guys that trade off average for added power. I don’t think he has the body to do that as his power largely comes from bat speed.


trying to think of what life after reynolds may look like for CF. Honestly we need to think about this whether they trade him or not, as he appears to be aging out of CF.

do they do everything they can to try to get a breakout out of Bae, Triolo, or Swaggerty in CF?

Do they buy a meh guy like harrison bader in a year?

Would dylan crews stick in CF and be here quickly?

Is buying low on a controllable guy like Ramon Laureano a valid option?


Life with him has been 100+ losses last couple of years. Does it get worse? Nope.


The old Ralph Kiner line comes to mind here.


If they front load the contract, they can extend him and not block themselves for further signings


I’m torn…but I am in the “Trade him NOW” camp. That said, 6y/100-110M and bite the bullets in years five and six… sounds do-able in today’s market. (Even with the Nutting-factor). But is Cruz, Rodriguez, Solometo, Johnson, Priester, Contreras, or someone else a better “spend”?


i mean, we wont know until we have some data on the players.

overall, the argument for not extending reynolds is made pretty well by the chart in the fangraphs article.

they already have control of him thru his yrs that project to be good.

once the FA yrs kick in, he becomes average.

there’s a fair price that can work for everyone, but i think both camps are currently hunting for a big win. the fair price is in the middle somewhere.


can understand why a team wouldnt feel compelled to extend someone into his mid 30’s when they already have him thru age 30 thru arbitration, and can either gain an addtl year thru age 31 or a 1st rounder via the qualifying offer being accepted/declined.

he’s due something like 3 years and 40 million thru his locked in 2023 salary and upcoming arbitrations.

toss on another year and 23 million for a QO. or, he declines and you get a first rounder, and can spend that 23 on someone else. either way would be fine but lets assume he’d accept for purposes of this exercise. that’d be 4 yrs, 63 that the team already has him for. (once again, lets not act like the team wouldnt ALSO be glad if he declines, they get a pick, and can re-spend that money on someone else).

a player usually has to sacrifice a little bit in order to get that surefire money instead of going year to year to maximize earnings. Let’s convert that to 4 years 53 mil for the surefire money for reynolds.

let’s value a FA year at 18 mil for age 31-34 reynolds.

let’s meet their “years” in the middle at 7 yrs total. so add 3 yrs, 54 mil to the 4 yr 53, to get 7 yr, 107 mil as what i consider as a fair deal for reynolds.

That said, the team already has him for 3 and 40, or 4 and 63. if i’m the team, i probably prefer the yr to yr route and shake hands at the end and spend that money on something else.


i think the team should probably just not extend him, and try to win asap.

that said, it’s possible that he’ll find this unacceptable and throw a (potentially justified) fit.

if he refuses to try his hardest in the year-to-year arbitration/QO route, then the right choice becomes to deal him yesterday, and to win in 2024 anyway.


if they find themselves in a position where Reynolds is super upset by going thru arbitration instead of getting extended, they should start seeing who the best pitcher they can get for him is.

just like, deal him straight up for, idk, triston mckenzie or something, idk.

Mckenzie – Skenes – Snell is gonna be fire for that 2024 playoff run.


I’m probably with you on this. They control him for 3 years. If they trade him, it’ll more than likely be an underwhelming return.

There is no effing rule that they have to trade players before they hit FA.

Then again, Reynolds is a Super 2 and he’ll be making 20M his last season.

Just keep him and build around. Pretty simple concept here.


Right. I don’t understand the idea that they have to do sell him of extend him. Why not just…hold him? This isn’t a situation like Soto in Washington where you have one monster player and everything else is crumbling around you. The organization needs to see what they’ve got with young guys graduating here anyway, and that’s gonna take a bit of time.


Thinking that is the plan and if they get the proverbial deal that they can’t refuse, they trade him them. If they were going to just trade him to trade him he would have been gone already.


I think the ZIPs projected contract from the article is pretty fair at 6/$95. I’d add in a team option for $15 with a $5 buyout to bring the total value to 6/$100 or 7/$110.

Sure, he might be a 1-1.5 WAR LF/DH by the end of the contract, but isn’t the going rate for 1 WAR on the FA market like $10 million anyway? What will that be worth in 2029?

Last edited 1 month ago by justin

If not Reynolds then who? Here are some names. Potentially 2 guys that they could consider breaking the bank for are Cruz and Johnson. If they progress and are the same All Star caliber player that Reynolds is, they would be several years younger when they would be hitting FA than Reynolds is. If Cruz continues his upward trend this season, they should consider a mega deal next off season


Keller, and this is coming from a former Keller basher. He is our best pitcher, period and he’s constantly working to improve.


Oh, definitely try to extend Keller. Just not sure he is one to break the bank with.

Last edited 1 month ago by robertkasperski

Not break the bank, but like handing us fan a pacifier! Btw I’m all in with jaygray and Catch on this one, let him play until his contract is up!

Last edited 1 month ago by PirateRican21

I was answering the question that Anthony posed at the end of this article “But is Reynolds that guy you break the bank with? And if not him, then who?” There are several guys to really try to extend but not break the bank types like Keller.


Yeah, that’s the way I read it!




Also as part of their prospect week, FG dropped their top 112 (prospects 50 or higher). Great content. The Bucs have five on the list, as do the Reds and Cards. Great content.


My God is Arizona loaded with top prospects. I read someone in here compare Bae with Corbin Carroll. That’s who we’ve become in here…

Last edited 1 month ago by Catch_22

No, stop it. Carroll profiles as a star and Bae as a weak hitting, weak armed utility player.


I happen to believe that Bae is going to be a star. Not afraid to say it, and not afraid to admit it if I am wrong.


I hope he becomes a star.


Comparing Bae and Carroll is a jabroni take if I ever heard one. The one thing that sucks for Arizona and Baltimore, loaded as they are, is the divisions they’re in. We could see the Bucs meander their way to an 86 win division title if we’re lucky. Retribution for 2015!

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