Trading Bryan Reynolds Is Not Comparable to Trading Nate McLouth

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Accepting a trade of Bryan Reynolds because it worked out over 10 years ago with Nate McLouth is a lousy reason to accept it.  They're not the same.

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Trading Bryan Reynolds is not comparable to trading Nate McLouth.  I can't believe I even have to say this.  I truly cannot believe it.  

However, the response I have heard to people saying a team should not trade a star center fielder under team control, in reference to Pittsburgh Pirate Bryan Reynolds, has been that they did just fine in the Nate McLouth trade.  To even begin to compare the players or the situations is simply outrageous.

First off, Bryan Reynolds and Nate McLouth are not close to the same level of player. In four and a half seasons with the Pirates, McLouth had a .261 batting average and a .786 OPS with 60 homeruns and 194 RBI in 481 games.  He did have an All-Star game appearance, a Gold Glove, and led the National League in doubles, all in 2008.  He also had 64 stolen bases with the Pirates. McLouth was 27 years old when the Pirates traded him for Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, and Gorkys Hernandez in 2009. 

Admittedly, that's better than I remembered.  I had not thought much about Nate McLouth until the comparisons with Reynolds began, and he does have more solid numbers than I recall.  However, Reynolds' career numbers are still better in less games played.  

Reynolds has a .283 batting average and an .841 OPS with 59 homeruns and 202 RBI in just 418 games with the Pirates.  Reynolds has eclipsed the .500 mark in slugging percentage twice in four seasons already, where McLouth never did in his career.  And while he doesn't have the stolen bases or Gold Glove that McLouth had, he did finish 11th in MVP voting in 2021 and started in the All-Star game that season.  

If you remove the 2020 season, Reynolds' numbers are exponentially better.  That Covid-shortened season saw many great players struggle due to the strange ramp up schedule so it's not just an excuse for Reynolds.  His overall body of work is much better than McLouth's ever was, despite McLouth having much better numbers than I remembered.

Now consider the situation the two were in.  Pretend that both players' talent and numbers are exactly the same, and Reynolds isn't the superior baseball player.  Trading Nate McLouth at the time in which the Pirates did is starkly different than if they traded Bryan Reynolds for one gigantic reason.

Andrew McCutchen.

Andrew McCutchen, as we all know was an absolute superstar, and the best Pirates player since Barry Bonds.  Had the Pirates won a World Series during his tenure here, there may be an Andrew McCutchen statue somewhere inside or outside the ballpark.  I still feel like there might be after he retires.  I don't need to dive deep into just how good Cutch was to this audience as we all lived it.  

Guess who was waiting in the wings in 2009 to take over for Nate McLouth?  Andrew McCutchen.  Guess who isn't waiting in the wings right now to take over for Bryan Reynolds.  Andrew McCutchen.  And to prognosticate that any of our outfielder prospects will reach that level is simply not true.  

There are some great prospects that should have solid careers as outfielders in the Pirates' farm system right now.  There are no McCutchens.  And you know why?  Because that caliber of player is already here in the form of Bryan Reynolds.  Our McCutchen 2.0 is already playing centerfield at PNC Park for the home team. 

So I agree with those who say you do not trade a star center fielder in the middle of this rebuild.  And while I will accept some arguments as to why I'm wrong, I will not accept that the Pirates did so with McLouth.  It is an outlandish comparison in both the player comparison and the comparison of the situations.  Don't accept these types of blanket statements when discussing Pirates baseball just because a guy has a radio show.