BRADENTON, Fla. — Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds knows he earned a hefty raise after making the All-Star team and becoming a finalist for both the Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger awards, all while playing for $601,000 last season, just above the major league minimum.
How much of a raise, however, remains uncertain.
Reynolds submitted a proposal for $4.9 million for 2022. The Pirates countered with an offer of $4.25 million. The two sides failed to split the $650,000 difference, leading to a potentially thorny fight in arbitration for the best player on a rebuilding team still searching for an identity.
The Pirates are a “file and trial” team, opting to stop negotiations and go to an arbitration hearing. Reynolds is coming off his best season, batting .302/.390/.522 with 35 doubles, eight triples, 24 home runs and 90 RBIs in 159 games last season.
The 27-year-old Reynolds is aware that arbitration hearings can get “messy” as teams attempt to lower a player’s value, so he expects the Pirates to hold the 2020 season against him.
The sport was shut down for nearly four months by the COVID-19 outbreak, and Reynolds’ timing was off in a shortened season in which he hit .189 with seven homers and 19 RBIs.
“I mean, I made it pretty apparent,” Reynolds said. “I feel like since then, it would be silly to put a bunch of emphasis on a 60-game pandemic season. I guess when it comes down to it, we’ll see. Yeah, I don’t want to be defined by that. I feel like I’ve kind of turned a page on that.”
Reynolds said the Pirates didn’t offer a long-term contract extension. He has turned down previous offers but has maintained that he’s open to staying with the Pirates even as he’s the subject of trade rumors.
“They didn’t say anything about an extension, so it wasn’t really on our minds,” he said. “I would have obviously liked to reach an agreement so we didn’t have to do this now. But, like I said, that’s part of the game, too.”
The Pirates have finished in last place in the National League Central three consecutive years and are coming off a 101-loss season. Last week, Reynolds said he wants to win with the Pirates. On Wednesday, Reynolds said he remains open to signing a long-term agreement.
“It doesn’t change anything the way I feel about Pittsburgh or anything like that,” Reynolds said. “Any of my teammates or the team or anything like that. I understand it’s part of the game.”
Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said he isn’t concerned about the case getting to Reynolds, whose low-key approach has made him consistent at every level he’s played save for 2020.
“I don’t think anything affects Bryan Reynolds,” Shelton said. “I think that’s the one beautiful thing about him is he stays the same all the time. And it’s wise, the caliber player he is.”