The Atlanta Braves have been looking for a “true” center fielder. But would they do this trade proposed by a writer for TheAthletic?
The World Champion Atlanta Braves truly have few holes to fill in their regular (non-pitching) lineup. Clearly, any moves they would make on that side of the ball would mostly be “just in case” of disaster.
That’s probably why we didn’t see a lot of movement before the lockdown, especially regarding players like Joc Pederson, Eddie Rosario, and Jorge Soler.
These guys were the emergency replacements after Ronald Acuna Jr. tore a knee ligament. With the anticipation of his return at some point in 2022, the need for these extra players — as useful as they were toward that title — is substantially less.
But with the return of Adam Duvall (he is being tendered a contract) and the real possibility that Marcell Ozuna may have to be back as well, the outfield is getting a little crowded for others.
Except in center field.
It was known at the trade deadline last July that the Atlanta Braves were after Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds… and likely other candidate CF’s as well.
It was also known that there were certain (unnamed) players for which Alex Anthopoulos was willing to throw open the prospect cupboards and deal anyone in the organization — regardless of forecasted future stature. It’s not known whether Reynolds was one of those players.
Regardless, Pittsburgh rebuffed all attempts to deal Reynolds at that time… going so far as to say that they would not trade him anywhere… period.
You can hardly blame them: Reynolds is entering the prime of his career (he’ll be 27 on the 27th of this month) and he’s already sporting a career OPS+ of 128… that after a huge 6-WAR 2021 that exceeded the output of every Braves player except Austin Riley (6.1 by the reckoning of Baseball-Reference’s scores).
Reynolds is also — still — not yet arbitration-eligible. So in theory, he’s still under team control for 4 more seasons. That could change if the new CBA permits more player freedom in the future, but that’s something we’ll have to watch for.
So while the Pirates would love to build a nice team around Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes, the real question is this: can they? Or better yet… can they do it while Reynolds is still affordable to them?
The likelihood is … probably not. Given that, Pirates beat writer Rob Biertempfel ignored the public protestations of the Pirates present people presiding over such matters, and proposed a few trades for some of their key player personnel… including Reynolds.
The Offer to the Braves
Among other possible deals tossed out for review by Biertempfel in TheAthletic (subscription required) was this one that involved the Braves:
- OF/CF Bryan Reynolds
- RHP Chris Stratton
Would you do this deal? Biertempfel asked Braves writer David O’Brien about the offer and he didn’t immediately reject the thought, noting that Atlanta really likes Reynolds a lot and this would keep Acuna in right field — where he more properly belongs.
Stratton would be a sweetener for the Braves… a “power righty” reliever with two years of control of his own, though my own take is that he would not need to be part of the deal.
The sticking part for both O’Brien and myself would be the inclusion of Langeliers. As we’ve discussed in these pages before, Atlanta would much sooner be willing to part with William Contreras if a catcher needed to be dealt elsewhere.
Contreras would actually fit better for them, though, since he’s MLB-ready now and Davis is still a couple of years away from the majors having just completed a season in which he (barely) reached High-A.
Other names were bandied about that could pique Pittsburgh’s interest, though: recent top draftee pitchers Ryan Cusick and Jared Shuster were mentioned by Biertempfel since the Pirates sorely need pitching depth.
There has been recent pitching action between the Braves and Pirates, of course: Bryse Wilson went to that club as part of the Richard Rodriguez deal. That ultimately didn’t work very well for Atlanta, though Wilson’s results are still up for debate: 4.91 ERA in 40 innings and 8 starters as a Pirate.
O’Brien’s take is that the Braves would ultimately say “no” on this package as presented, though they would also leave the door open for additional negotiations.
Certainly, the addition of Reynolds to this stacked Braves lineup would go a long way to helping them have a solid chance to repeat as champions in 2022 — particularly if (I have to say it) Freddie Freeman does return for next season and beyond.
Even if (heaven forbid) that doesn’t happen, Reynolds would help fill the offensive void that would be left.
Personally: if you could re-up Freeman and add Reynolds… you’d be looking at a juggernaught lineup that would be deep-in-the-playoffs contenders for the next 4-5 years without any doubt.
That kind of deal is something you trade almost anyone to get, for whatever you might lose in the process could be made up for over time while the major league team continues on a serious run.
The real trick is this, though: getting the Pirates to the point where they’d be willing to deal their best trade chip. But the Braves do have a lot to offer.
So it might require an overpay (and probably would)… but you’d end up with a team that could have four MVP candidates on it in Riley, Freeman, Acuna, and Reynolds. What’s that worth?