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Arbitration with Bryan Reynolds? Not so fast

The ramifications may be greater than the rewards.

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Pittsburgh Pirates
Negotiations? Yes. Arbitration? Maybe not.
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the Ke’Bryan Hayes deal is done, attention swings back to Bryan Reynolds, but with a twist.

An arbitration hearing is not a given now.

Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that the Pirates would rather strike some sort of shorter-term deal with B-Rey to avoid arbitration.

As I have been writing since Ben Cherington became the Bucs’ general manager, GMBC would not have taken the job if Bob Nutting hadn’t indicated that money would indeed be spent when the time came. The Hayes deal, while not in Max Scherzer territory, is still by far the largest in Pirates history. Also, keep in mind that Hayes has had flashes of brilliance, but a troubling injury history, including yesterday’s forearm spasm (not an injury per se, but still kind of alarming), made it a bit surprising that the extension was for that long.

Reynolds, with the exception of the lunacy that was the truncated 2020 season, has been not only good but reliably healthy. And you better believe that’s going to be brought up in any negotiations.

For those of you who refuse to believe that Nutting actually does care about the PIrates, Mackey offers this:

... Nutting also wants to better connect with players coming out of the new collective bargaining agreement and doesn’t believe that taking Reynolds to an arbitration would do anything to achieve that goal.

Establishing trust with players is one of Nutting’s goals, sources said, as well as investing in areas that are germane to the Pirates’ current situation — things like facilities, the MLB draft, scouting, technology, success on the international market and long-term extensions like the eight-year, $70 million deal the Pirates have with Ke’Bryan Hayes that ranks as the largest in franchise history.

It’s also a tricky situation. Nutting, per sources, is actively engaged with baseball operations and strongly believes in the staff and progress made since they’ve been in place ... yet he’d also like to find a solution that doesn’t involve a hearing but does respect the processes the Pirates have in place.

I don’t see any deal with Reynolds going as long as Hayes’s, but I do see similar if not higher dollar amounts. If Cherington and Nutting are truly committing to the idea of Hayes and Reynolds being building blocks for a competitive Pirates team, that’s what they’re going to sell to B-Rey. Reynolds, in turn, has stated publicly that he wants to stay in Pittsburgh.

He’s got the track record.

After yesterday, I think he’s going to get the money.