With the arrival and emergence of super-prospect Manny Machado at third base for the Baltimore Orioles, it is quite possible that they could decline the $11 million team option on corner infielder Mark Reynolds, surrendering just a $500,000 buyout to get from under the 2013 team option. Once that has been done, the Cleveland Indians should aggressively pursue Reynolds on the free agent market this winter.
Reynolds won’t turn 30 years old until August 3 of next season. In his six seasons, he has 179 home runs and an .808 OPS in 2,912 at-bats. Over a 162-game season, Reynolds has averaged 28 doubles, 35 home runs, and 96 RBI. Clearly he has a lot to offer with his bat.
However, one thing plagues Reynolds that makes him a dangerous signing: he has struck out 1,105 times in his career, leading the majors in strikeouts from 2008 through 2010 with Arizona, then leading the American League in 2011 in his first season in Baltimore. In fact, Reynolds has struck out in 32.7 percent of his career plate appearances. Luckily, Reynolds has also walked in 12 percent of his career at-bats, salvaging his on-base percentage. His career OBP of .334 is not too bad considering With his atrociously low career batting average (.237) his severely high strikeout rate.
Reynolds is a right-handed power bat. While he struggles defensively at third base (.928 fielding percentage and 114 errors in 1,588 chances) he is serviceable. Reynolds can also play first base, where his defense again isn’t great (.989 fielding percentage when the league average is .994), but he can handle the position. With Lonnie Chisenhall potentially locked in at third base, Reynolds could take over the position when the Tribe is facing a tough left-handed starter. He could also handle first base on an everyday basis, moving to third or designated hitter to allow Carlos Santana a rest off of catching.
Reynolds can provide a lot of power for the Indians, another need. With a lineup that featured nothing but left-handed hitters for most of the season, the Indians need to spend the offseason making adjustments to their roster. Who knows what the Indians’ plans are for Matt LaPorta and Russ Canzler, especially considering the need for a right-handed bat for most of the season with neither receiving a call-up until the Tribe was officially out of it.
Reynolds can frustrate fans with his inability to make contact, however, with a roster filled with solid on-base guys, the Indians can afford the gamble. Reynolds power and ability to get on base (when he doesn’t strikeout) is too valuable to overlook.
If or when the Orioles cut ties with the slugging right-hander, the Cleveland Indians should jump at the opportunity to fill a need this offseason. They simply can’t afford to sit back and wait for the second-tier talent to fall into their laps. Being aggressive is the only way to get the team back on track, so if you’re reading this Dolan family and Chris Antonetti, Reynolds is an excellent signing for the Tribe.