Should The Astros Trade for Bryan Reynolds?
Updated: Dec 5, 2022
Bryan Reynolds has been negotiating an extension with the Pirates and apparently it is going so badly that he publicly asked for a trade.
Astros Twitter did what Astros Twitter does- freak out. Popular accounts have been saying for a year the Astros would get Reynolds. While the chaos ensued, I published the real list of what the Astros SHOULD DO this week at the Winter Meetings. Spoiler Alert-Reynolds IS NOT on the list.
Here is my current problem. For almost 12 years this front office has made decisions that were based on logic, reason, and a common framework of statistical analysis. I don't know if logic is even involved in the decision making process right now. ARE they thinking long term and about the moves that are needed to extend Tucker, Bregman, Altuve, Javier, and others soon? They don't really talk about it so who knows.
Therefore, when it comes to trading for Bryan Reynolds I can give you a framework and reach a conclusion and confidently say the previous GMs would have reached a similar conclusion. I have no idea what the current leadership of the Astros will do.
Let's focus on the FACTS.
McCormick would possibly be part of a Reynolds trade (more on that later). How do the two compare?
Some of these indicate a significant gap and some indicate not THAT big of a gap.
What if we were to compare Reynolds in 2022 to Brantley? Brantley is the likely odd man out (they wouldn't sign him) if they made this trade without trading Chas.
Brantley was arguably more productive as a bat than was Reynolds. The key to Brantley is really is he healthy and can he stay healthy.
Reynolds projects to be better forward. I am constantly accused of relying too much on projections. I won't here.
I used my WAR / Playing Time model and I project adding Reynolds in place of Brantley would add 0.8 WAR. This is a significant bump up but hold this in your mind for later.
I have give you two plots here to try to illustrate something related to the CENTERFIELDERS in 2022. Only players with 400 or more CF innings are on these. The first plot is the DRS each player delivered and the innings they played in CF.
The second plot is the OAA each player had and the innings they played in CF.
Data point one (far left)- Meyers- above average
Data point two- McCormick- about average
Data point three- Cody Bellinger- slightly above average
Where do you think Reynolds is on this chart? Guess please.
He is DEAD LAST - the data point to the FAR RIGHT. Reynolds delivered an atrocious -14 DRS and an almost equally terrible -7 OAA. These are so much worst than the rest I wanted you to have the data.
Yordan in LF, McCormick in LF/CF, and Meyers in CF is VASTLY better than Yordan in LF, Meyers in LF/CF, and Reynolds in CF.
WHATEVER offensive advantage Reynolds would of had in the batters box over McCormick, I submit to you he gave it up in the field. He was not only the worst CF defensively, it's not even close.
I got some feedback that some do not like that I have only used 2022 stats here. Reynolds was also marginally bad in 2021 (DRS, UZR/150, ARM) but at least had good OAA data. It paints a multi year picture of a below average CF.
A Reynolds is in his Arb1 year. He is a Free Agent after the next three seasons. McCormick is still his last year of Pre-Arb. Here is the relative financial commitment one would project for each of these players for the next few years.
Reynolds will NOT be as inexpensive as you think. The Arbitration court does not focus on defense but Dusty does.
A $20M commitment to Reynolds in the context of the other commitments discussed in the Payroll Armageddon article leads to potentially severe consequences in 2025.
One of biggest challenge I have had in the Astros Twitter world for the past several years is the complete lack of awareness of trade values. The best source for that is baseballtradevalues.com.
Here are the trade value tables for the Astros prospects and the Astros 40-man roster. Given these values what do you THINK Reynolds value is?
Reynolds has a trade value of 59.9. I just do not think the Astros would invest the level of trade assets required to make this deal. Let's create two options.
1. McCormick trade
Reynolds (59.9) for McCormick (31.3), Yainer Diaz (14.4), Pedro Leon (6.5), Joe Perez (3)
MAYBE this is enough. It might not be at 55.2 total.
2. Luis Garcia trade
Reynolds (59.9) for Luis Garcia (45.6), Yainer Diaz (14.4), Pedro Leon (6.5)
THIS probably gets this deal done but at what price? I told you that many adding Reynolds over Brantley would add 0.8 WAR. If you had to trade Garcia (projected 2.1 WAR) to do this deal, you are costing this team more WAR than you are adding.
The trade package to get Reynolds is WAY MORE than you think. Try to create your own package that gets to at least 55 points. Is that really a deal you want to make?
Let's summarize the total picture of Reynolds vs. McCormick vs. Meyers vs. FA (Brantley) to summarize my view on Reynolds. I am going to rate these elements on a scale of 1-10 with 5 being MLB average.
For trade cost - 1 is high and 10 is none.
4 in LF
Reynolds is probably a more valuable player due to his bat but that value is mitigated by his defense and increasing payroll cost.
I would NOT trade for Reynolds. As described in the off season priorities now article, this team has a real OF need in 2023 and
"The Astros have several prospects that are ready/ near ready- Matijevic. Leon, and Dirden. Even Yainer Diaz and Joe Perez have limited starts in the OF in AAA in 2022. Ideally, their target might be a September 2022 arrival (except Diaz)."
Trading for Reynolds blocks those players and the next wave of top draft picks like Gilbert that might be here in 2024.
This is not the right move for the Astros.
Will they do it anyway? Go back to the beginning of this article. I don't know.
Statistics from Fangraphs.com, BaseballSavant.com, baseballtradevalues.com, baseballreference.com.
Let me know what you think.
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