Bryan Reynolds left Vanderbilt as one of the most complete center fielders to grace Hawkins Field. That skill carried over into the minor leagues, where a solid 2017 transformed him into the No. 4 prospect in the Giants’ system.
And now he’s got another honor to add to his growing resume — being traded for a former MVP.
The Giants shipped Reynolds, 25-year-old reliever Kyle Crick, and $500,000 of international pool money to Pittsburgh in exchange for five-time All-Star — and face of the Pirates’ resurgence — Andrew McCutchen. As one center fielder leaves, another emerges; though it will be at least a couple years before the mustachioed hero who robbed SEC foes of extra-base hits in Nashville makes his debut at PNC Park.
It’s the second time Pittsburgh has sold off one of its core talents in the past three days. On Saturday, the team shipped former No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole, ostensibly the team’s No. 1 starter for 2018, off to the Astros for a smattering of medium-to-good prospects. While that sent the message that a rebuild was in order, Monday’s trade of McCutchen — who’d spent his entire nine-year career in the Steel City — was a loudspeaker announcement the franchise would be selling off established assets for young players.
What this means for the Pirates: Pittsburgh hadn’t finished above .500 the past two seasons, and GM Neal Huntington decided to sink to the bottom of the pool rather than tread water in standings limbo. Moving Cole and McCutchen will just be the start. Other established veterans like Josh Harrison, Starling Marte, and Ivan Nova could be the next to go.
Marte, if he sticks around, can handle McCutchen’s duties in center field while giving the team a defensive boost — assuming he doesn’t get popped for another lengthy suspension in 2018. That could open up a full-time roster spot for top prospect Austin Meadows, who has yet to pop off at AAA Indianapolis in two stints there the past two seasons.
Reynolds is the most interesting piece of the trade for Pittsburgh. The rangy center fielder played in a pair of College World Series finals at Vanderbilt and won the school’s first men’s NCAA title as a core component of a stacked team. MLB.com had rated him San Francisco’s No. 4 prospect after a promising year in A+ ball where he batted .312 and posted an .826 OPS in 121 games. He’s still got a ways to go, but the former second-round pick is a dynamic athlete with a track record of performing in the clutch.
Crick, a former first-round pick in 2011, posted a 3.06 ERA and 1.21 WHiP in 30 appearances for the Giants last summer. He spent last year as a reliever in both the majors and in AAA ball, which may set the course for his future with the club.