Dec
04

Scouting The Free Agent Market: Mark Reynolds

By

(Greg Fiume/Getty)

The offseason dynamic has changed quite a bit for the Yankees over the last 24 hours. They went from trying to dig up a utility infielder who could play 100 combined games between short and third next season to absolutely needing an infielder because Alex Rodriguez will have another hip surgery next month. The injury creates two holes as the Yankees lost their starting third baseman and primary source of right-handed power for potentially the entire first half.

The free agent market is light on quality third basemen and the trade market isn’t much better, so the Yankees are stuck picking from imperfect solutions. We know they don’t consider Kevin Youkilis, Placido Polanco, Ty Wigginton, and Marco Scutaro everyday options at the hot corner, narrowing the field of potential options even further. There’s always Eric Chavez, who played very well last season but doesn’t solve the right-handed power problem and is far from a safe bet to remain healthy. Eduardo Nunez is not an option and playing Jayson Nix everyday has Cody Ransom 2.0 written all over it.

The best free agent option may be a player who wasn’t even a free agent five days ago. The Orioles non-tendered Mark Reynolds last Friday after first declining his $11M club option for 2013. He remained under team control as an arbitration-eligible player, but the club decided to cut ties rather than pay a projected $8.9M salary. At 29 years old, Reynolds is one of the few free agents on the right side of 30. Let’s see if the former Diamondback is a fit for New York’s new needs.

The Pros

  • Reynolds has some of the biggest right-handed power in the game. He joins Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Ryan Braun as the only righties to hit at least 23 homers in each of the last five seasons, and over the last three years he owns 92 homers and a .236 ISO. Those rank 12th and 14th in baseball regardless of handedness. Yankee Stadium usually doesn’t mix well with dead pull right-handed hitters, but Reynolds has the kind of power that will play anywhere.
  • In addition to that power comes a whole lot of patience. Reynolds has drawn at least 70 walks in four straight seasons and his 13.2% walk rate over the last three years is the 14th highest in baseball. His average of 4.26 pitches per plate appearances since 2010 is Nick Swisher, Joe Mauer, and Youkilis territory.
  • Guys like Reynolds are easy to typecast as platoon bats, but over the last three seasons he’s posted a .238 ISO with a 116 wRC+ against lefties to go along with a .236 ISO and 104 wRC+ against righties. He can play against everyone.
  • Reynolds has been on the DL once as a big leaguer, missing a little more than two weeks with an oblique strain this season. Prior to that he had been good for 145-155 games played per year every year.

The Cons

  • All of that power and patience comes with a lot of strikeouts. Like a historic amount of strikeouts. Reynolds holds three of the five highest single-season strikeout totals in baseball history and has whiffed in 32.3% of his plate appearances over the last three years. Only Adam Dunn has been worse. If there’s anything good to note here, it’s that his strikeout rate has declined in each of the last two seasons, relatively speaking.
  • Reynolds is a big time fly ball hitter (36.1% grounders since 2010), hence the power production, but fly balls also turn into outs rather easily. As a result, he owns a meager .268 BABIP and .213 AVG over the last three years. Over the last two seasons it’s a more palatable but still awful .221.
  • His best position is probably DH, though he has shown the ability to fake first base these last two years. The various defensive stats rate Reynolds as well-below-average at the hot corner, as in 10 runs or more below-average annually. That’s Johnny Damon in left field bad.

Reynolds has the kind of power and patience the Yankees crave, and the fact that he swings from the right side and doesn’t need a platoon partner fits well with a lineup that is all but devoid of right-handed threats at the moment. He doesn’t hit for average though, which is a problem. A team can live with one low-average, high-walks, high-power hitter in the lineup, but the Yankees already have Curtis Granderson on the roster and squeezing two hitters like that into the regular lineup is less than ideal. Then again, the team is listening to offers for Granderson.

Given the dearth of power hitters and corner infielders on the free agent market, I do wonder if some team will step in and offer Reynolds a two-year contract. He figures to sign for less than the $8.9M the Orioles declined to offer him, but given how the market has played out so far I wouldn’t be completely surprised if some team floats a two-year, $12M offer. Something like that. The Yankees are fixated on one-year contracts and two years for a guy like Reynolds isn’t very advisable anyway.

The real question is whether he can actually man the hot corner on a regular enough basis to be a worthwhile pickup. He doesn’t need a traditional right/left platoon partner, but maybe a third base/DH platoon partner. The Yankees could bring back Chavez and have him and Reynolds split the load at the hot corner while the other plays DH on a given day. It sounds great in theory but is much tougher to actually pull off on the field. The Yankees are losing a considerable amount of offense this winter though, and Reynolds is one of the few available players who can make a real impact with the bat thanks to his power. Again, imperfect solutions.

Categories : Hot Stove League

76 Comments»

  1. Knoxvillain says:

    Cody Ransom 2.0? Watch it, Mike. Ransom made the last put out at the old Yankee Stadium.

  2. Gonzo says:

    Reynolds at 3rd and Jeter at SS. What could go wrong?

  3. Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

    Unless their gonna start trading away prospects, this is probably their best option for DH/backup 1st and 3rd though they’d really need to keep his playing time at 3rd to an absolute minimum.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      If they re-signed Chavez, they could keep him as the short side of the 3B platoon and use him at DH/occastion 1B fill on the days Chavez plays 3B.

      • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

        Assuming Arod is back by the All star break and has no complications, I’m not sure if you could expect to get about 80 games at 3B from Chavez/Reynolds, Chavez because of his precarious injury situation and Reynolds because he’s so brutally awful at 3B.

        Plus Arod is not going to play 3rd everyday even after he comes back so you probably have to account for someone else to play 3rd for 100-120 games this year.

        • Cris Pengiucci says:

          Chavez played in over 100 games last year. I would think 80 between he and Reynolds is achievable. You also have Nunez or Nix that could fill in once in a while.

          I’m not counting on ARod coming back and being able to play often in the field, so this certainly isn’t an ideal situation. It is, however, an option.

        • Oahoea says:

          Assuming that Arod is back at the ASB w/o complications is a dangerous proposition, considering that he now has two surgically-repaired hips to go along w/ a myriad of other injuries over the past couple of years. I wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t back until the end of August, maybe later.

          That said, I think Keppinger is the best option as the RH side of a 3b platoon and as a guy who can fill in at SS and 1B throughout the season as well; problem is, I don’t think they can trust Chavez to get the bulk of the ABs at 3B and stay healthy. I can’t believe I’m saying this but…Ian Stewart?

      • CountZero says:

        I hate to say it but this may be our best option at this point.

  4. Robert says:

    Prediction its Sept 2014 the Yanks miss the Playoffs for the 2nd straight year as the Yanks are under the 189 Mil mandate.

    Hank and his siblings sell the club to a group headed by no other than the recently retired Derek Jeter……..Just like Magic did with the Dodgers

    Jeter has expressed interest in ownership and states he has no interest in becoming a Coach/Manager…

    Stranger things have happened!!!

  5. Mscott says:

    What about a Chavez/Youkilis platoon 3B/DH rotation? Youk had a .878 OPS vs. LHP last year.

    Also, just read about Arod’s contract being mostly insured. If a baseball player under contract has to stop playing because the doctors deem him physically unable to perform and the insurance kicks in, what happens to his insured salary vis-a-vis the luxury tax?

    • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!) says:

      hey remember the past 6 years we spent saying that Youk is a douchey whiny prick? That hasn’t changed since A Rods injury. He’s still the WORST.

      • A.D. says:

        But he could be our douchey whiny prick, which is always better than someone elses

        • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!) says:

          I think Joba would disapprove of this comment.

          • Klemy says:

            I vote for Youk, if for nothing less than seeing if Joba would voluntarily throw him BP.

            • RetroRob says:

              Reminds me of when Clemens joined the Yankees and Jeter showed up in body pads as a joke or ice breaker since Clemens used to hit him reguarly, or at the very least come in very tight on him. (I always thought Pedro hit Jeter far more.) It was also Clemens who basically told Joba to take one guy and dust him reguarly. Joba picked Youkilis, although as far as I know, he has yet to ever hit him, unless he did more recently.

            • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!) says:

              ……and now I want Youk on the Yankees. Thanks for the visual!

      • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!) says:

        And of course, Jack Curry making me look like a dick…

        The Yankees have spoken with Kevin Youkilis’ agent, reports Jack Curry of the YES Network (Twitter link). According to Curry, Youkilis would consider a one-year deal if the salary was at a “premium amount.”

        Eh, he’s not so bad. After all, some of those called strike 3′s were shaky at best. Misunderstood, more than anything…

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        *actually doesn’t think Youk is a whiny prick*

        *hides*

        • Cris Pengiucci says:

          You’re kidding right? RIGHT?!?!?!?

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            I think he needs a shower and de-licing. Don’t get me wrong. Didn’t Jeter vouch for him, though?

            If he’s good enough for the team captain, he’s good enough for me.

          • RetroRob says:

            I know our (meaning Yankee fans) perception of Youkilis is he’s a total jerk, but a lot of that’s driven by the fact he was a Red Sox player and he would not back down from confrontation. I have no idea what he’s like as a club house guy. He seemed to have the respect of many of the Sox veterans, yet he was also part of the great collapse and that Red Sox team had massive club house problems. Valentine seemed to call out Youkilis from day one and then he was traded. Those could all be signs that he was viewed more as the problem than the solution. So hopefully the Yankees do their homework, as generally do.

            One year deal? I can live with it. He’s a righty, has power and good strikezone judgement, and the fielding metrics say he’s okay. Can back up at first. He’ll no doubt enjoy going back to Fenway as a Yankee punishing the Red Sox based on how he exited. There are worse ideas.

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              Agreed. I think he’s had PLENTY of time to get to know some of the Yankees over the years.

              I’m not opposed to a one-year deal.

            • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!) says:

              “Valentine seemed to call out Youkilis from day one and then he was traded. ”

              I think this were two VERY distinct and separate events. Bobby V called out Youk (along with everybody on that team) because he thought he could turn that clubhouse around by throwing his weight around.

              Youk was traded because there was an opportunity to trade an oft injured player who was made redundant by Big Papi, the second coming of Teddy Ballgame (Adrian Gonzalez) and Wil Middlebrooks. Worked out aces for them, huh. Mutually exclusive events.

              I still think he’s a dick. That said, I always thought Posada and Mussina were dicks too… but I loved having them here.

              • RetroRob says:

                Yes, that makes sense. My point is we don’t really know anything about Youkilis and his club house leadership. So I see a potential red flag, but it could just as easily turn out he’s a great teammated. We just don’t know. Yet short of finding out he’s a modern day Jack the Ripper, a one-year deal is pretty low risk. So I’m in favor.

        • Mike HC says:

          I agree. Definitely don’t think he is a whining prick. I hope he ends up on the Yanks this year.

    • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!) says:

      and as far as the luxury tax goes, I am almost positive they still pay the luxury tax on his salary, whether its paid by the Yankees or the Aflac duck.

    • Oahoea says:

      Youkilis will want 2-3 years at least, and there’s no way I can bare to watch him in pinstripes for that long.

      • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!) says:

        I would have thought so as well, but see my copy paste above.

      • RetroRob says:

        He’s a bit injury prone and had an off year. I don’t see him getting more than two, and supposedly he’s open to a one-year deal at a premium. In other words, he might take less in total dollars then he’d get in a two-year deal, but will take a premium over what any other team is offering for one. This might be a situation where the Yankees simply overpay for one year based on the their needs and the market.

        I actually believe this is going to happen.

  6. DERP says:

    Yes please

  7. Upstate Yanks says:

    Yuck. I dont like it

  8. Get Phelps Up says:

    Can putting him at 3rd every few days for the first month of the season while ARod heals really be worse than Ibanez in the outfield?

    • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!) says:

      yes. yes it can

      • Get Phelps Up says:

        I know he’s a terrible defender at 3rd, but the Yankees did live with Ibanez in the outfield for much if kast season who is also a terrible defender. I wouldn’t mind playing him at 3rd against LHP with Chavez or someone else like that playing against RHP.

        • Gonzo says:

          I have a friend who is a die-hard O’s fan. He tells me it’s that bad. Like horrible. You can hide a guy like Ibanez a little in LF like what the Nats did with Morse, but you can’t hide a guy a 3b.

        • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!) says:

          You are comparing going into April with Mark Reynolds as a legitimate part of your defensive plans for 2013 as opposed to Raul Ibanez (and Andruw Jones and Marcus Thames before him) being thrust into emergency defensive action due to injuries.

          These two situations could not be more opposite.

  9. Mick taylor says:

    Sign Reynolds and Chavez trade cano and sign Josh Hamilton if you can get him for 3 max 4 years at what you would pay cano per year but for 8 years . Yanks lineup would be gardner jeter Tex Hamilton Reynolds/Chavez granderson ibanez /Nunez stewart

  10. Steve (different one) says:

    One thing I have been thinking, why don’t the Yankees offer 2 year deals that are heavily front loaded. Yes, I know the luxury tax calculation is based on AAV, but it is really only the Yankees who are fixated on that. The rest of the league cares about real dollars.

    IOW, give Reynolds his $12M/2, but pay him $10M this year. That makes it very likely they’d be able to trade him next winter, since he won’t be making any money. It also makes their offer more attractive to Reynolds.

    • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!) says:

      if no one cares about the AAV and luxury tax but the Yankees, then it doesnt matter how is contract is structured.

      I am boldly predicting that anyone the Yankees sign to multi year contracts they will want on this team next season.

      • FLYER7 says:

        A two year contract at $10M per and $4M per still averages to $7M per average and the average is what goes against the $189M

        • G says:

          Their point is if Reynolds were only owed $2M next year, it’d be very, very easy to trade him. That way they could entice him with the allure of a 2 year deal and still have him off their 2014 payroll. Not that I agree with the plan, but I see the logic.

          • RetroRob says:

            There’s another way they could structure it that guarantees Reynolds no less than $14M over two years, but will allow him to walk away after one year if he has a good season, or provide him coverage for year two in case he gets injured.

            Offer a 2/$14 payable $10M in 2013 and $4M 2014. Build in a player option, allowing him to walk after 2013 and get a $2M buyout. The player knows he’s really getting $12M for one year of work, but if he gets injured, he has a contract for the following season. Even if that were to happen, the AAV would only be $7M, which the Yankees could live with. More likely though is even if he sucks, he’ll still take the buyout and leave for a fulltime job elsewhere knowing all he needs to do is beat $2M (the portion he left behind after the opt out) to be up on the deal.

            Provides a good salary for 2013, a low AAV for the Yankees, and pretty much a lock the player will walk away. That will increase the calculation for the 2013 AAV, but the Yankees won’t care about that.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          We will pay you $10 million dollars for 2013 and one dollar in 2014.

          With a 2015 team option, of course.

        • Joey from Jersey says:

          I think you may be missing the point. Player would be traded before year two and the second year of AAV would be picked up by the second team while only paying his cash salary. Seems to work from what I have read but then again I have a day job outside of baseball.

          • MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!) says:

            Except now you have to trade him. Rule #3: Brian Cashman cannot control the minds of other GMs. And if he has a disaster year, good luck moving him.

            So its like, lets sign Hamilton to a 2/60 contract, but pay him 55M this season? Its creative, sure, but I am not positive its as simple as writing it.

            • Joey from Jersey says:

              Not sure what the first two rules are but from your prior post you seemed to have been shooting down the idea without, it appears, understanding his point. Ready, shoot, aim. Your example is ridiculous but clearly there would be risk of not being able to trade the player in say year two. See my post below for that exact point without the sarcasm.

    • vin says:

      Interesting idea, however, I don’t think the Yanks want to risk getting stuck with a player… even if it is just a couple of million bucks. I don’t think people realize how tight they’re going to have to be to make 189. I did the math earlier in the year, and the only way they make it is by relying on quite a few league minimum players on the bench, in the bullpen and in the rotation. Unless if they don’t re-sign Cano, and somehow manage to find cheap OFers to replace Swisher and Grandreson.

      That said… I still would’ve given Russell Martin a qualifying offer. I’ll be saying that for the next year, at least.

    • Joey from Jersey says:

      I think this is one of the few ways to game the current luxury tax threshold. Big market hockey teams did this under the just expired collective bargaining agreement. Big market team has cash but no cap space so front load the contract and trade the layer on the back end of the deal to a small market team that needs to hit the salary floor or will never be on danger of hitting the cap. Would seem to work for yanks from what I have read of the current system. Catch would be the risk of finding a trade partner after this year say due to injury or the contract not getting approved by the league.

      • Preston says:

        I don’t think that’s how it works. If you signed Reynolds for 2/14 and paid him ten in 2013, then traded him he would still count towards the 2014 AAV. Even though you only owed him 2 million in 2014, his AAV number would be 7, and that number would only be reduced by another team paying that money either to Reynolds or the Yankees. So we’d have to trade Reynolds and get 5 million in cash, which would never happen. Or take a 5 million dollar hit on the cap for a player not on the roster.

  11. Coolerking101 says:

    How about another HUGE pro: he hit .306/.435 with 7HRs at Yankee Stadium in 2011-2012. Granted, it’s only 62 AB’s, so small sample size warning…but still, those stats are worthy of consideration.

    IMO, clearly worth a 1 year deal.

    • Steve says:

      The problem with that line of thinking is that he’s destroyed Yankee pitching generally over the last couple of years, not just at Yankee Stadium. It seemed like last year Yankee pitchers couldn’t figure out that they couldn’t keep throwing him fastballs over and over, at least not if they weren’t expecting him to keep hitting them over the wall over and over. If the Yankees really are being as tight with their money as it seems this off-season, he may be the best available option for them, but he is an extremely flawed player and not the type of signing that I could get excited about in any way.

  12. Robinson Tilapia says:

    I’ve said this in a couple of other threads already, but I’d like him in a world in which we could have a strictly DH type offering major pop off the bench. As someone putting in meaningful innings at either corner, or backing up the guys already there? The power isn’t enough to justify it for me. Square peg, round hole.

  13. There's the Door says:

    Absolutely not on Reynolds. Exactly the kind of the player they should not be going after. Can go oh-for-months-at-a-time.

  14. MannyGeee (189M or bust, bitches!) says:

    Also worth mentioning:

    http://gifrific.com/buck-showalter-high-five-fail/

    You had me at ‘Fuck Buck’ Mark… You had me at ‘Fuck Buck’

  15. Kingslayer says:

    we already have a lefty strikeout record holder (Curtis Granderson), why would we want a righty one? You have got to be kidding!!

  16. Youk, Chavez, Pierzynski, I’ll take em all on 1 year deals!

  17. effthisnoise says:

    Reynolds has “kill the yankees, suck as a Yankee” written all over it

  18. Max says:

    “The Mets have considered the idea of signing Mark Reynolds to play in the outfield…”

    If Reynolds could fake the OF like Raul last year, he makes a ton of sense for the Yankees. He has RH power and is patient, which is what the Yankees need. He could play third until ARod gets back. He could then he can be moved around between DH and OF depending on the situation –> could platoon with Gardner or Ichiro (assuming he’s re-signed) if either are struggling dramatically against LHP.

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