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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

The Arguments for Bryan Reynolds

by Paul Semendinger

January 8, 2022


(The following post grew out of a discussion in the comments yesterday.)

The Yankees need a quality left fielder. The Yankees need a left-handed batter to add to the lineup. The Yankees need a player who can add some power to the lineup.

It would be nice if the Yankees had a player that could spell Harrison Bader which wouldn't require the Yankees to put Aaron Judge in centerfield.

The Yankees also need an outfielder as "Harrison Bader Insurance" in case (a) Harrison Bader sustains an injury (b) Harrison Bader does not perform up to expectations, and/or (c) Harrison Bader does not return to the Yankees for 2024.

From what I see, there is only one player that is currently or likely to be available that checks all the boxes.

And that player is Bryan Reynolds.

The more I think of this, the more I come to the conclusion, for a host of reasons, that the Yankees should throw caution to the wind and make a trade with the Pirates for Bryan Reynolds even if the trade includes one (or some) of the Yankees' top prospects. The time to make the trade for Bryan Reynolds is now.

I will outline all of the reasons below.

Note - readers might disagree with a point or two that I make, maybe even more, but the logic I present is sound and factual, and I think it would be very difficult to argue against the totality of points that I outline below. The sum total of the complete rationale for making this trade makes a very compelling case. I do not think there is another player that checks as many boxes as Bryan Reynolds would for the Yankees.

1) Bryan Reynolds is a plus player, an above average player who would, instantly and immediately be one of the best players on the Yankees in 2023.

In 2022, Reynolds, in his worst full season, was a 2.9 WAR player by Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs.

In 2021, he was a 6.0+ WAR player, again by both metrics.

Fangraphs projects 3.9 WAR for 2023.

Steamer projects 4.0 WAR.

A 4.0 WAR player is a very valuable asset.

Using B-R, among position players on the Yankees in 2022, only Aaron Judge (10.6) and Gleyber Torres (4.1) reached that level.

In 2021, only Aaron Judge (6.0) posted a WAR of 4.0 or better. The next best position player was Giancarlo Stanton at 3.1.

Also, as an example, Harrison Bader has never had a 4.0 WAR season.

Anthony Rizzo hasn't posted a 4.0 WAR season since 2019.

Stanton hasn't had a 4.0 WAR season since 2018.

A 4.0 WAR player would immediately be one of the best players on the Yankees.

A 4.0 WAR player instantly makes the Yankees a much better team.

2) Bryan Reynolds will be entering his age-28 season in 2023. This is a player who is in his prime.

3) Bryan Reynolds is signed through 2025. He will be a reasonably priced player for the Yankees in relation to his production for the next many years.

4) If the Yankees see great growth, performance, and production and it seems that Jasson Dominguez and/or Everson Pereira are ready to assume starting roles in 2024 or 2025, Bryan Reynolds should still be productive, young, and reasonably priced enough to be able to trade him if it comes down to that.

In short, Bryan Reynolds won't be untradeable, but one will see from the stats below that it is likely that the Yankees would not want to trade him because he's a very very very good player.

5) If Harrison Bader under-performs, gets injured, or needs rest in 2023, Bryan Reynolds can play centerfield. He is a centerfielder.

6) If Harrison Bader does not return to the Yankees (for whatever reason) in 2024, the Yankees will still have a quality Major League centerfielder in Bryan Reynolds.

7) If the Yankees go with a stop-gap, one-year left fielder for 2023, and if Harrison Bader does not return to the Yankees for 2024, the Yankees will need two outfielders. Reynolds prevents 2024 from becoming a very big potential problem.

And since Harrison Bader will be a free agent, Reynolds provides the Yankees with a quality player in the event that Bader's contract demands prove to be unreasonable.

8) Since he is a centerfielder, Bryan Reynolds should be more than able to play left field.

9) Bryan Reynolds allows Giancarlo Stanton (who has missed 49% of the Yankees games since 2019) to not have to play the field.

I am of the opinion that Giancarlo Stanton should not be asked to play the field on any type of a regular basis. He is getting old, he is fragile, and he is not a left fielder.

10) Bryan Reynolds allows Oswaldo Cabrera to be a part-time outfielder/infielder better utilizing his versatility and eliminating the possibility that a career infielder would have to make the transition to being a fulltime outfielder on a team that is looking to compete for a World Series.

11) Bryan Reynolds is a switch-hitter giving the Yankees that much needed left-handed bat in the lineup.

12) Bryan Reynolds adds needed power to the Yankees lineup. He has exceed 20 home runs each of the past two seasons.

Based on his spray charts (on Fangraphs), I count about 14 flyballs from 2022 that Reynolds hit to rightfield as a left-handed batter that were not home runs that would be home runs (most likely) in Yankee Stadium. With that in mind, it is not unreasonable to assume that he could have close to 30-home run power in pinstripes. But even 20 home run power extends the Yankees lineup.

13) In 2021, Reynolds was a 6.0 WAR player. Achieving that level again is not out of the question, especially with him playing for a winning team.

Should he replicate a 6.0 bWAR, he would be the first Yankees left fielder to have a bWAR that high since Brett Gardner put up 7.4 bWAR in 2010.

In addition, the only Yankees to have a bWAR that high (6.0 or better) since 2011 have been Robinson Cano (numerous times), Curtis Granderson (once), and Aaron Judge (numerous times).

In other words, a 6.0 WAR player is not common. At all.

14) In a down year, Bryan Reynolds had a 126 OPS+ in 2022.

That made Reynolds, in his worst season, 26% better than the typical Major League player.

The season before Bryan Reynolds had a 145 OPS+.

A 145 OPS+ is basically what Aaron Judge has been in many seasons (absenting last season, of course). Judge's OPS+ from the combined seasons of 2019-2021 was 145 exactly.

Putting Bryan Reynolds in left field gives the Yankees a player whose production (as measured by OPS+) could be exactly what Aaron Judge produced in a typical season prior to 2022.

15) Bryan Reynolds is MUCH better than most realize.

(This stat comes from Kody Duncan on Twitter - the tweet is embedded below.)

Since the start of the 2019 season, only three outfielders have hit:

70+ home runs

90+ doubles and had a

125 OPS+ or higher.

Those three players are Mookie Betts, Bryce Harper, and Bryan Reynolds.

16) The Yankees are a win-now team. Many of their best players are on the wrong side of 30-years old.

In a bubble, teams shouldn't trade their top prized prospects for players who might not be great. Reynolds might not be great (though the numbers above show that he is better than many presume).

The Yankees do not have the luxury of waiting forever. The best window for them to win a World Series is now.

The following Yankees will be 30-31 years old in 2023:

Jose Trevino

Aaron Judge

Carlos Rodon

Clay Holmes

The following Yankees will be 32 years old or older in 2023:

Gerrit Cole

Anthony Rizzo

Josh Donaldson

Aaron Hicks

Giancarlo Stanton

DJ LeMahieu

Kyle Higashioka

This is very much a win now team. If Volpe or Dominguez takes an extra year or so to develop, by the time they get to the Bronx, the window might be closed.

I also think it's also unrealistic to assume that Volpe, Peraza, Cabrera, Dominguez, Sweeney, Pereira, and Wells will all become solid (or better) Major Leaguers. That's a lot to ask. Some players just don't make it. Most players don't. That's just the sad reality. If two or three of those players become difference makers, the Yankees did well. Very well. There is no guarantee that those players will arrive in time to be difference makers while the current Yankees' core is in their prime. It is most likely that by the time the young players are ready, the greatest Yankees of now, Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, and others will be entering their decline years.

In sum, sometimes trading the future for the now makes great sense, as it does now, because Bryan Reynolds could (I can argue should) be more valuable to the 2023 Yankees (in regard to helping them win a World Series) than Jasson Dominguez might be to the 2025-2029 Yankees as it's possible (and maybe even likely) that by the time Dominguez arrives (if he arrives) the Yankees will not be a team as close to winning.

16) The Yankees led the American League in runs scored in 2022, but most of the players in the lineup, except Aaron Judge, saw their production decline in the second half of 2022.

Heading into 2023, the following positions had players who batted under .250 for the entire second half of 2022:

Jose Trevino (c) - .244

Anthony Rizzo (1b) - .225

Gleyber Torres (2b) - .243

Josh Donaldson (3b)- .219

Harrison Bader (cf)- .217

Giancarlo Stanton (dh)- .186

That is six of the nine batting positions. Two of the other positions, shortstop and left field, have players that are unknowns at this point.

The ONLY Yankees hitter to have a very productive second half in 2022 was Aaron Judge.

Bryan Reynolds had a better second half of 2022 than he did in the first half. He batted .271/17/36. (And that was for a terrible baseball team.)

17) It is possible that the Yankees over-value their prospects and that smart baseball people do not value the Yankees as highly as the Yankees seem to. If so, the time to trade the prospects is while their value is high (which means now).

There were stories that came out last summer that the Yankees offered their top prospects to the Nationals for Juan Soto and the Nationals didn't feel these players were as impressive as the Yankees seem to think.

Jasson Dominguez, for example, just batted .159 in the Arizona Fall League. (I know, I know, "He was young for the league, etc..." The number can be argued away, but the results are the results.)

I have no way of knowing how highly the Yankees actually value Dominguez, or any of their prized minor leaguers, but, as noted above, most top prospects don't pan out. That's just the sad reality.

The Yankees would be thrilled, I believe, if any of their prospects match the production Reynolds has provided the last few years.

18) There does not seem to be any other outfielders of Bryan Reynolds' quality that are available for the start of 2023 and it is highly conceivable that as teams stay in the pennant race (with expanded playoffs) that the demand for Bryan Reynolds will only increase as the trade deadline gets closer.

If readers know of other players that can play left field that are, or will be, or might be, on the trade block, please share those names in the comments.

I have heard Ian Happ as a possibility, but in looking at the stats, Bryan Reynolds has been at least equal, and in many ways he's been more productive player than Happ the last two seasons combined. Reynolds is also under team control longer, will be less expensive each of the next few years, and is five months YOUNGER than Happ.

19) In looking at his age, Bryan Reynolds would also help bridge the gap to the next Yankees' era. He makes them younger and better.

Heading into 2023, the only Yankees starting position players younger than Bryan Reynolds will be Gleyber Torres and Oswald Peraza.

20) Flags fly forever. And flags have not been plentiful at Yankee Stadium for the bulk of this century.

The time to take the chance on a player of Bryan Reynolds skills and abilities is now. The time to go big is now. This is the Yankees' big chance. They should not waste this opportunity.

Bryan Reynolds is vastly superior to any other option that is available to play left field for the 2023 (and beyond) Yankees. The more one looks at Bryan Reynolds the better he looks and the more it makes sense to take a deep breath and trade some of the future for the now.


Here is the Tweet I referenced above...

dr sem.png

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