The Pirates and outfielder Bryan Reynolds have agreed to a $106.75 million contract extension for 2023 to 2030 with a team option for 2031, major league sources have confirmed. Athleticism. Here’s what you need to know:
- Reynolds led the Pirates in batting average, home runs, RBIs, on-base percentage and hits in 2022.
- In 22 games in 2023, he’s batting .294 with five home runs and 18 RBIs on 25 hits.
- Going into Tuesday, Pittsburgh (16-7) leads the National League Central and is on a seven-game winning streak.
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What does this mean for the future of the Pirates?
When general manager Ben Cherington was hired in 2019, the Pirates were in chaos. The front office had lost its vision, the coaching staff had lost control, there was infighting in the clubhouse and ownership seemed indifferent to anything but the bottom line.
It’s all changed. Reynolds’ deal is a tangible sign that the team’s star player, ownership and management are all confident the Pirates will be competitive for the foreseeable future. It’s also a signal to fans that after years of pinching a penny, owner Bob Nutting is ready to spend whatever it takes to field a competitive team.
Reynolds, 28, is at the peak of his career and will be the anchor of an outfield that is still being rebuilt. The Pirates still have questions to answer. Oneil Cruz is out with a fractured ankle. Several key insights will start arriving later this summer. The team will need time to gel.
The Pirates have won seven straight, sit atop NL Central and have been one of baseball’s biggest upsets in the first month of the season. Even if they can’t sustain their hot start deep into the season, the Pirates have plenty of indicators pointing up. — beer temple
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What does this say on the front office?
Nutting allowed Cherington to distribute the two biggest expansions in franchise history. In April 2022, third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes was signed to an eight-year, $70 million contract.
Reynolds’ new contract comes three days after extended Pirates manager Derek Shelton. (Terms of Shelton’s contract were not disclosed.)
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Cherington has earned Nutting’s trust, but now he must keep it. For starters, Reynolds and Hayes need to keep performing. Cherington recently said he would like to lock in other players with multi-year deals.
Cherington didn’t elaborate, but the roster almost certainly includes Cruz, right-hander Roansy Contreras and likely right-hander Mitch Keller as well. The three players said Athleticism they would be open to exploring long-term contracts to stay in Pittsburgh.
It remains to be seen how much Nutting left in his coffers for other transactions. The Pirates ended up raising the offer they made for Reynolds last fall by more than $26 million — small change for some clubs, but not for the Pirates. — beer temple
How does this deal compare to Reynolds’ peers?
This is a throwback to the contract extensions of around half a decade ago, when they were more explicitly team-friendly and involved relatively little risk for the team. Considering Reynolds was already making $6.75 million this season, it’s basically a seven-year deal and $100 million in new money. Reynolds likely would have won around $25 million over the next two years in arbitration. So this extension values five years of free agency at around $75 million — Andrew Benintendi’s money rather than Brandon Nimmo’s money. (I had suggested that Reynolds’ free agent years be valued at 60% more than that, at $24 million per season.)
In other words: Reynolds, despite four years of a demonstrated high-profile major league record and with his years of league minimum wage behind him and his free agency on the horizon, signed for less than Corbin Carroll Diamondbacks. He signed for less than Ronald Acuña Jr. in Atlanta (adjusting inflation), when Acuña had only one year of service. Without the opt-out in that deal, Reynolds’ extension is as team-friendly as any signed extension in recent memory.
Of course, it’s also a nine-figure deal that, on an individual level, is hard to turn down. Not all players prioritize moving the market forward. (In that respect, it’s reminiscent of another extension general manager signed by Ben Cherington: the eight-year, $110 million deal he signed with Dustin Pedroia in 2014, months before Robinson Canó reset the second baseman market when he made more than double.)
The start of the deal in 2023 reduces Reynolds’ average annual value over the term of the deal to $13.34 million. Even though Reynolds begins to decline in his mid-30s towards the end of the contract, the salary is manageable enough for Pittsburgh. And if he continues to play like an All-Star, that’s a huge win for the Pirates. — Breton
The Pirates continue their surprise success at the start of the season by locking in their best player. Reynolds was an All-Star in 2021 and was the subject of trade rumors amid the negotiation process.
The overtime is the longest ever given to a college draft outfielder. Reynolds was selected in the second round of the 2016 draft by the Giants before being traded to Pittsburgh in the deal that brought San Francisco Andrew McCutchen in 2018.
(Photo: Jeff Curry/USA Today)