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Bryan Reynolds is the centerpiece of a lackluster Pittsburgh Pirates team. They’re clearly looking much more toward their future than toward the present.

With MLB’s fourth ranked farm system, the Pirates should be ready to conclude their rebuild and compete after just a few more seasons tanking.

Pirates majority owner Bob Nutting has a well known streak of frugality towards free agents, but that may extend to his own players as well. Though Reynolds is under team control for four more seasons, the Pirates don’t yet know when their competitive window will open.

If their ownership and front office believe that Reynolds will no longer be cost effective by that time, then they could try to flip him now for maximized value. That case has been made more likely by a comment from Reynolds himself in an article by Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Regarding a possible extension from the Pirates, Reynolds said, “I didn’t hear anything.”

Players and teams are barred from official communication during the lockout, but even before this situation began Dec. 1, 2021, Reynolds was still in the dark about a potential long-term deal with the Pirates.

For the Philadelphia Phillies, this should be a beacon of hope. Once a player is signed to an extension they are always made “unavailable” on the trade block. Still, the Pirates’ fee for Reynolds would no doubt be steep.

If the Pirates were unwilling to discuss a contract with Reynolds pre-lockout, it likely means they won’t conduct contract discussions post-lockout either. Thus, the Phillies have a golden opportunity and more time to deliberate Reynolds’ value and the best potential trade for both sides.

That deal almost certainly must include one of—if not both—the Phillies top two prospects. Between Mick Abel and Bryson Stott, Abel almost certainly has the higher value, but minor league pitchers are, by nature, unpredictable.

The Phillies best pitching developments of the last five seasons came from unranked prospect Ranger Suárez, not MLB’s #34 prospect Jake Thompson or #27 prospect Spencer Howard.

Stott, being so close to the majors, is a far more predictable player. It seems increasingly likely that he’ll be an average defensive shortstop with an above average bat. Of course, that sort of player should always be highly valued, but Reynolds is already a defensive whiz in center field and an All-Star-caliber hitter.

For the Phillies, it would undoubtedly be prudent to give up one of their top prospects for Reynolds, but that won’t be enough. They’ll need to include more, whether that’s O’Hoppe and Vierling or an Abel-Stott combo, the Phillies have a golden opportunity to become a World Series contender right now with the acquisition of just one player.

At the very least, now that Reynolds isn’t close to striking a deal with Pittsburgh, the Phillies can feel comfortable waiting for the right time to pounce.

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