Oct
01

Mailbag: Mark Reynolds?

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Think of Mailbag Day as a celebration of the readers. You guys control the content today…

Kevin asks: What do you think of the Yankees acquiring Mark Reynolds? Obviously his strikeouts are ridiculous, but maybe Kevin Long can pull another rabbit out of his hat and his power as a super sub would be very valuable.

Look at that, even managed to work a Yankee into a picture of Reynolds. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Just to address the obvious first, yes, Reynolds strikes out a ton. He’s now spent three seasons as a full-time big leaguer (2008-2010), and those represent the three largest single season strikeout totals in baseball history. Even more amazing is that his strikeout rate is going up, not down. He struck out 37.8% of the time in ’08, 38.6% of the time in ’09, and a whopping 42.0% of the time this season. As you’d expect (hope), the strikeouts do come with the trade off of mammoth power (.236 ISO, which would trail only Alex Rodriguez on the Yanks) and lots of walks (10.4% in ’08, 11.5% in ’09, 14.0% this year). Reynolds is the epitome of a three true outcomes player, with 1,145 of his 2,281 career plate appearances (50.2%) ending with strike three, ball four, or a leisurely trot around the bases.

Although he’s primarily been a (poor) third baseman (-7.1 UZR/150 career) in the desert, Reynolds does offer a smidgen of versatility. He played more shortstop than third in the minors and has dabbled at second base as well, so if nothing else he could at least handle those spots in an emergency. A corner outfield spot is more realistic, where he has three innings of experience in the big leagues and 23 games worth in the minors. I can’t imagine he would be worse than Marcus Thames out there. Reynolds has also played his fair share of first base, so he can definitely spot start there if needed. In a perfect world he’s the righthanded half of a designated hitter platoon (.385 career wOBA vs. LHP, .337 vs. RHP), so basically just a better and younger version of Thames.

There is one significant drawback here, and it’s not the strikeouts or his .198 batting average (.257 career hitter coming into the season). Reynolds is under contract for two more seasons at $5M and $7.5M respectively, plus there’s a $500,000 buyout of his $11M option for 2013. It’s not huge money, but it ties up a roster spot for two years with a glorified designated hitter, something the Yanks already have a few of. He would also represent another roadblock for Jesus Montero, unless the Yanks are comfortable with playing the kid behind the plate full-time in the near future.

The Yanks and Diamondbacks have an obvious connection now with Kevin Towers taking over as GM in Arizona, and he knows New York’s farm system as well as anyone outside of the organization. Towers has already expressed an interest in getting his team to cut down on strikeouts (the D-Backs lead MLB with 1,495 strikeouts, and it’s not particularly close) while improving his pitching staff, so dealing Reynolds for a young arm or two is a good way to kill two birds with one stone. Kevin Long has done some amazing things in his time as hitting coach, and I’m sure he could help Reynolds some, but if he managed to get him to decrease the strikeouts while making more consistent contact, well then that’s his Mona Lisa. Just give the man a lifetime contract, he’s earned it.

So to answer the question, I’m going to say no. I definitely think Reynolds is undervalued right now and a fantastic buy low candidate if you’re willing to live with his warts (I can live with 100+ strikeouts, but damn, 200+?), but he doesn’t exactly fit what the Yankees need with Montero coming up and Jorge Posada inevitably needing time at DH next year. If he was on a one year deal it would make a ton more sense since he could serve as Montero insurance, but two guaranteed years makes me hesitant.

Categories : Mailbag

36 Comments»

  1. Frank says:

    Not in favor of getting Reynolds. By the same token, let’s not assume Montero will be with the Yanks as he could get traded for a starter (no one in mind). Just mentioning the possibility, which would then change things considerably.

  2. Jamal G. says:

    Shouldn’t him being under contract for more than a year be a plus in the Yanks’ corner because he would be the primary DH-in-waiting? Once Posada’s contract runs out, there is no obvious DH replacement unless you are banking on Austine Romine as an everyday backstop as early as Opening Day 2012.

    Your idea of him learning some corner outfield would be perfect because he would classify as a semi-regular by getting PA’s in multiple roles. He could serve as a replacement 3B when A-Rod needs a breather and play the outfield against southpaws when one of Gardner or Granderson sits. Essentially, he would act as Austin Kearns and Ramiro Pena in one.

    Without the luxury tax, that salary over the next two seasons ($13M, including the $0.5M buyout) calls for 2 to 2.5 wins. Considering he will get ample playing time as the backup 3B, LHP masher in the corner outfield and some DH (350+ PA’s, at least) time, I think that’s perfect value for his position on the team for 2011 through 2012.

  3. Tank Foster says:

    I like him. I agree there is a logjam on the Yankees at DH, but Jamal makes alot of sense. There are no guarantees anywhere, and Reynolds has insane power. ARod and Jeter are both probably going to miss time with injuries in the next 2 years, and Reynolds is a huge upgrade over Pena-Nunez.

    • Steve O. says:

      If he comes here, I doubt he’ll every play one inning at SS. I think another team who actually needs a 3B could offer much more than we ever could, or would want to offer for that matter.

      It sounds like a good idea, with his power, etc, but I just don’t think it’s a prudent decision.

      • Zack says:

        I see it more as a Swisher situation when the Yankees have the ability to take on the contract if the player doesn’t bounce back.

        Obviously Towers isn’t KW, and Swisher had more money coming to him- but if you’re a contending team and need a 3B are you going to count on Reynolds giving you 600 productive ABs? And if he doesn’t can you absorb having him as a 5m-7.5m bench player? And do you have a backup plan if he doesn’t work out?

        Very few teams can do that- are Sox going to get him and say if he can’t turn it around then we have Jed Lorwie as plan b?

        • Ted Nelson says:

          With Swisher you had two strong seasons followed by an off year, whereas Reynolds only had one very good season followed by the off year that’s not really an off-year because it’s very similar to his 2008 season… could easily be a fluke year sandwiched between his true production level. Swisher also never struck out 200 times in a season.
          I’m not saying there aren’t possible parallels or that the Yankees shouldn’t consider it.

          “if you’re a contending team and need a 3B are you going to count on Reynolds giving you 600 productive ABs?”

          Not all teams are contenders, and if the Yankees would count on him why shouldn’t other teams?

          “And if he doesn’t can you absorb having him as a 5m-7.5m bench player?”

          Can the Yankees? They have to re-sign Mo, Jeter, and probably Pettitte. They are likely to make a run at Lee. Do the Yankees have a spare $5 mill for a righty DH with Posada, Montero, and Thames all options at the position? Can they find similar options cheaper? I don’t think it’s a bad idea, but far from a no-brainer.

          • Zack says:

            “Not all teams are contenders, and if the Yankees would count on him why shouldn’t other teams?”

            The original comment was that a team who had an opening at 3B would be willing to give up more. Yankees wouldn’t be acquiring him to be a full-time player, other teams who need a 3B would, so there’s different levels of risk. If you’re not contending then taking the financial risk isn’t worth it, and if he blocks a prospect its not worth it either.

            “Do the Yankees have a spare $5 mill for a righty DH with Posada, Montero, and Thames all options at the position? Can they find similar options cheaper?”

            Even with Posada DH/C there’s no guarantee he’ll stay healthy, 40 year olds pull muscles. And there’s no guarantee Montero breaks camp with the Yankees, or is even up before June.

            So yes he’s a buy-low candidate. He can spend time at DH, he can spend time at 3B while ARod is at DH, when Jesus comes up Arod can have full days off without a Pena being in the lineup. If he can be acceptable in the OF then that’s also another option versus LHP like Mike wrote in the thread.

            Would you rather spend 2m on a guy like Wigginton or acquire Reynolds (obviously if the asking price isnt crazy)?

            • Ted Nelson says:

              “If you’re not contending then taking the financial risk isn’t worth it, and if he blocks a prospect its not worth it either.”

              If you want to use him as a starter the financial risk isn’t worth it, but if you want to use him as a back-up go ahead and risk the $5 the 7.5 mill? You don’t see any problem with that logic?

              If the Yankees expect him to bounce back after this season, there are probably other teams that do to… If those teams are looking for a fairly low cost starter who might pop 40 HRs and slug .500 or higher… They might give up more in terms of prospects or ML talent than the Yankees are willing to give up to get a bench player.

              “Would you rather spend 2m on a guy like Wigginton or acquire Reynolds (obviously if the asking price isnt crazy)?”

              Again, the question is whether the Yankees can afford to acquire him and will… Not only financially (and just because they can increase payroll doesn’t mean they want to cut into profits) and in terms of prospects but also in terms of the risk of inflating their payroll to the point where other teams get together and put in a cap.

              Would you rather sign Lee with the extra cap space and re-sign Jeter, Mo, and Pettitte (or replacements), or blow off one of those options to get the incredible super-sub Mark Reynolds? Is his production against lefty pitching guaranteed to be that much better than Thames or Montero? I don’t know that it is. Is it that appreciably better than Nunez? Depends on what Reynolds you’re getting and how Nunez develops. So, again, I’m not against the idea of acquiring Reynolds, I’m wondering whether it fits with the Yankees budgetary constraints and whether there is a better option out there.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                Furthermore, what’s to assume Kevin Towers wants to give away a 40 HR threat? He may be looking for a great offer or willing to hold onto Reynolds.

                • Zack says:

                  Again I’m not saying Montero & Brackman for him.

                  The post states how Towers already wants to cut down on the strikeouts, we’re saying IF he’s available, would you go after him.

              • Zack says:

                “If you want to use him as a starter the financial risk isn’t worth it, but if you want to use him as a back-up go ahead and risk the $5 the 7.5 mill? You don’t see any problem with that logic?”

                If a team goes into the season looking for Reynolds to get 600 AB at 3B and they can’t fix him and he puts up a .700 OPS then that hurts their team alot more than having a part time player struggling would hurt the Yankees. Yankees have the financial means to take risks- I’m sure there were teams that saw Swisher’s low BABIP in Chicago- but how many of them could take the 20m risk?

                Nady won the starting job and Swisher was going to have to earn playing time, and if he failed then they had a capable player to play RF.
                Tell me what the Yankees have if ARod goes on the DL again next year? And if Montero struggles and/or Posada is back on the DL for a month as a 40yo? Then you’re going to give Thames 2m to come back? And you still don’t have a back up 3B.

                “Not only financially (and just because they can increase payroll doesn’t mean they want to cut into profits) and in terms of prospects but also in terms of the risk of inflating their payroll to the point where other teams get together and put in a cap.”

                I already said in the previous post “(obviously if the asking price isnt crazy)” – so that’s not the argument.

                The cutting into their profit thing is a non-issue, and I didn’t say that I’d get Reynolds instead of Lee.

                “whether there is a better option out there.”

                Marcus Thames is not a better option. He’s a DH only. Who else out there can play 3B if ARod goes on the DL again? That’s why I mentioned Wigginton- because if you don’t someone like that 2-3m then you have to live with a month of Pena/Nunez at 3B.

              • Zack says:

                If you want to look at options then look at your needs:

                -A corner IF who can actually give you more than a .600 OPS if ARod misses time.
                -A DH bat for early in the season, as well as a bat down the stretch
                -A 4th OF for LF is Granderson’s SSS of success v LHP since working with Long isn’t permanent.

                Thames will be looking for more than 800k, Kearns too. So are you going to bring them back for 2m each then go give Wigginton 2m? Give Wigginton 2m then give 35 year olds spring training invites and hope you strike lightning in a bottle again?

    • Thomas says:

      If Jeter misses time due to injury, Reynolds likely wouldn’t be the backup/fill in player. Reynolds is a bad third baseman who can probably play 2nd or short in an emergency. He probably isn’t good enough defensively play there on any sort of regular basis even if it is a 15 day DL for Jeter 9or Cano), so Pena or Nunez would still be starting like 2 of 3 games.

  4. JobaWockeeZ says:

    If Jesus didn’t exist I’d be for it but pass. Unless Towers gives the Yanks a break in prospect cost I’d pass.

  5. Steve H says:

    Can you imagine the outrage of the fans who irrationally hate strikeouts (not that anyone loves them)? I would want the Yankees to get Reynolds just to see those people lose their minds.

    • Steve O. says:

      Oh yeah, he’d definitely strikeout in big spots all the time, driving fans up the wall. He’ll also hit HRs in big spots too. Maybe they negate each other? Or maybe one will overshadow the other?

      • Esteban says:

        It would depend on how he did at first. Once a player gets a reputation, it’s hard to shake it. For example, a friend recently said A-Rod is still not a clutch player, because he is not consistently clutch (whatever that means)

    • Zack says:

      We should have been playing Colin Curtis or Kevin Russo!

    • Dude, I hear you, but think about the flip-side… You’d have to deal with the craziness long after the humor could be found in it initially, and then you’d have the other people massively overreacting to the morons with their ‘but TeH sTRikeoots!!11!!elevntythisjokeisn’tfunnyanymore!!1!’ crap, and then the enraged martyrdom reactions of the initial morons, and the further enraged taunting from the ‘enlightened’ ones, and it’ll all just keep getting worse, in perpetuity.

      Honestly… I hope Cash isn’t cruel enough to do that to those of us who cling to our fan-sanity.

  6. Yank the Frank says:

    He is coming from the NL West. He seems to have a lot more down sides than up.

  7. Mike HC says:

    I enjoy the one long post for one question rather than the three question little paragraphs. All good either way though. Nice write up here. Agreed that the Yanks should not give anything of value up for Reynolds.

    • Mike HC says:

      I didn’t realize the entire day was mailbag day when I wrote this. Or at least didn’t put two and two together when I saw “Mailbag day” in the first sentence.

      Anyway, I’m digging Mailbag day. Keep up the good work guys.

  8. Steve H says:

    I know this is somewhat meaningless, but interesting nonetheless.
    B-Ref’s most similar batters by age:

    24-Mike Schmidt
    25-Mike Schmidt

    • I guess B-Ref has decided that Strike outs + home runs = Mike Schmidt

      • Steve H says:

        Yeah, that’s pretty brutal. They play the same position, hit HR’s and lead the league in strikeouts. Nevermind Schmidt had a 150 OPS+ those two years, Reynolds was 112. I’m surprised B-Ref doesn’t do a better job comparing players, involving rate stats with counting stats (and games played) to get a truer comp.

  9. David says:

    I wouldn’t care to trade away any player that Kevin Towers wants to aquire

    /Groucho’d

  10. cranky says:

    Reynolds is an adequate fielder at third base and the quintessential “all or nothing” hitter.
    Having a guy like him around to fill-in for A-Rod would be great. But otherwise, he’d be a drag on the lineup and on the payroll.
    The Yankees absolutely need to acquire someone who can be a viable sub for A-Rod, but I seriously doubt they’re going to want to spend $6-8mil/yr for a guy who’s going to sit on the bench much of the time. And trading away good young prospects for a part-timer doesn’t make much sense, either.

  11. Bill says:

    I think Reynolds makes sense if the price is right (in terms of prospects) and if he can play some OF. I do think we need another hitter like him that we can move around particularly someone that can play both OF and 3B.

    I honestly don’t see the logjam either with Montero. I mean we have an aging roster we have guys that need time off and not just the half day. Posada will need to DH some but he’s also going to need a lot of full days off. We have Granderson who could use time off against lefty starters. ARod needs time at DH. And this is even without factoring in injuries. This team really would be best served going into next year with 10 regulars or 9 regulars with Montero called up in May. Whether its Reynolds or a FA like Branyan, Wiggington or Hinske, this team needs more than what they have.

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