Archive for Mark Reynolds
Got six questions for you this week, so this is one of the longer mailbags we’ve had. The Submit A Tip box in the sidebar is the best way to send us anything throughout the week.
Joe asks: Any chance the Red Sox decline their team option on Jon Lester and if so should the Yankees sign him? Also what are your thoughts on Tim Hudson for them next year?
The Red Sox do have quite a bit of pitching depth going into next year, with Jake Peavy, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Felix Doubront, and Ryan Dempster all under contract for 2014 with youngsters like Allen Webster and Brandon Workman waiting in Triple-A. Lester, who is still only 29, had an awesome start to the season but has been terrible for more than two months now. Following last night’s outing, he is sitting on a 4.38 ERA and 3.97 FIP, which isn’t much better than what he did last year (4.82 ERA and 4.11 FIP)
Lester has not been a truly dominant ace since 2010 (3.25 ERA and 3.13 FIP), so I don’t know if he’s a guy who simply peaked early or what. He’s definitely worth examining more in depth, in a non-mailbag setting. The Red Sox hold an affordable $13M option for next year, and when you consider that Ervin Santana was terrible last season (5.16 ERA and 5.63 FIP) yet still found a team willing to pick up his $13M option, I’m guessing Boston will pick up Lester’s and look to trade him rather than cut him loose entirely. If they do cut him loose though, I would definitely want the Yankees to look into him. Reasonably young AL East proven lefties are a rare commodity.
As for Hudson, I’m very wary of a 38-year-old coming off a major ankle injury like that. He was good but not great before getting hurt (3.97 ERA and 3.46 FIP) and it’s fair to wonder how he can rebound. Even though he’s not a pitcher, we needn’t look further than Derek Jeter to see how hard it can be for an older player to come back from a traumatic ankle injury. If Hudson’s willing to take a low-base, incentive-heavy one-year contract with no guarantees, sure, look at him. I just wouldn’t want the Yankees to sign him with the idea that he’ll automatically step into the rotation.
Alex asks: If Alex Rodriguez were to get injured this year, say a pulled hammy, can he decide to start serving his suspension before the appeal is heard to get some games out of the way and miss less time next year if the suspension is reduced?
Sure, A-Rod can drop the appeal at any time and start serving the suspension right away. I don’t think he would in the case of injury because he would still get paid while on the DL. He won’t get paid during the suspension and that’s what this is all about. Alex isn’t stupid, he knows his career is probably over after the suspension. He’ll try to stay around as long as possible to collect as much of his contract as he can, especially since it’s front-loaded and his salary goes down the next few years.
Donny asks: How about Mark Reynolds (DFA’d)? He sure has sucked since May 1st, but so has every other third basemen we have run out there this year.
I can’t imagine many teams have cut their leading homerun hitter, but that’s what the Indians did when they designated Reynolds for assignment yesterday. He is hitting .205/.307/.373 (93 wRC+) with 15 homers on the year, but it has definitely been a tale of two seasons. Reynolds hit .254/.340/.503 with 12 homers in his first 50 games and .173/.272/.235 with three homers in his last 49 games. He’s been awful since the end of May.
That said, Reynolds is useful. Limited, but useful. The just-turned-30-year-old has hit .215/.333/.411 (111 wRC+) against lefties this year, plus he can play the two corner infield spots. “Play” the two corner infield spots, if you catch my drift. He’s a bad defender and he strikes out a ton (32.0 K%), but he hits lefties and works the count very well (11.2 BB%). The Yankees could send David Adams, who is unlikely to play all that much anyway, back to Triple-A Scranton and platoon Reynolds at first with Lyle Overbay. It’s probably too late for a move like this to impact the playoff push, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be an upgrade.
Paul asks: Let’s assume for a moment that the season ended today. Where would the Yankees pick in the draft, and is it a strong draft this year? I’m looking for any kind of silver lining to this season, help me out here.
The Yankees currently have the 14th best (16th worst) record in baseball, so they would have the 17th overall pick in next summer’s draft if the season ended today. The Blue Jays have a compensation pick for failing to sign this year’s tenth overall pick (RHP Phil Bickford), which is why it’s the 17th overall pick and not the 16th. New York had the 17th overall pick in the 2005 draft (SS C.J. Henry), which they got from the Phillies as compensation for losing Tom Gordon. Before that, you have to go all the way back to 1993 for the last time they picked that high (RHP Matt Drews, 13th overall).
As for the quality of next year’s class, here’s what an unnamed scout said to Chris Crawford (subs. req’d) back in June:
“On paper, it’s a much better crop (than 2013),” an NL scout said. “It’s not the strongest group of advanced bats again, but there’s so much more depth than there has been the past two years, particularly with the high school hitters and even more particularly up the middle. This year, other than J.P. Crawford, there isn’t one high school shortstop I would have taken in the first round. Next year, there’s about four or five that I’d consider. It’s all speculation, but I feel much more confident about getting a quality player this year than the last two.”
It’s still way, way too early to get a firm grasp on the quality of next summer’s draft class. NC State LHP Carlos Rodon is the clear favorite to go first overall right now, he’s David Price-esque, but everything else is up in the air. We have to wait for the high school and college seasons to start in January and February before players start falling into place.
He turns 21 in December, so let’s not jump off the ledge worrying he’ll be old when he debuts just yet. The Yankees have been relatively conservative with Sanchez so far, having him repeat Low-A Charleston last year and spending most of this year in High-A Tampa. I like that, I do think they’ve been a little overly aggressive at times with their top guys the last few years. I wouldn’t expect Sanchez to have a realistic chance to make the team out of camp next year, though that could come in 2015. Have patience. They need a catcher in the worst way, but rushing the top prospect to fill that hole isn’t the answer, especially not with J.R. Murphy in Triple-A.
Ori asks: Who is the best Yankee pinch-hitter ever? I remember Ruben Sierra being a particularly good one.
Hooray for the Play Index? Hooray for the Play Index! Here are the team’s top ten pinch-hitters during the DH era (since 1973), minimum 20 pinch-hitting opportunities (34 qualifiers):
Bernie Williams is 12th with a .768 OPS and Sierra is 21st with a .646 OPS. Hassey has the highest batting average as a pinch-hitter in team history (Strawberry is second) while Johnson has the highest OBP and SLG (Strawberry is second in both).
Johnson, who played with the Yankees from 1977-79, and Strawberry are clearly a notch above everyone else here. I like that pinch-hitting was part of their role too; they weren’t full-time guys who came off the bench a few times like Matsui or Giambi. They were legit part-time players who were expected to pinch-hit in key spots. Strawberry was awesome, still my all-time favorite player to this day.
According to multiple reports, the Indians have agreed to sign Mark Reynolds to a one-year contract worth $6M plus incentives. He’s going to play first base for them.
The Yankees reportedly had some interest in Reynolds for their third base vacancy, but more importantly the signing figures to impact the Tribe’s pursuit of Kevin Youkilis. New York has a one-year, $12M offer out to the former Red Sox, and the Indians were their biggest competition due to their two-year offer and Terry Francona. This is no guarantee Youkilis will sign with the Yankees, but it certainly increases the odds of that happening.
Day Two of the Winter Meetings was busier than Day One for the Yankees even though they didn’t make any moves or announce another Alex Rodriguez injury. Brian Cashman confirmed speaking to the representatives for Kevin Youkilis, A.J. Pierzynski, Ichiro Suzuki, Eric Chavez, and Raul Ibanez. Jeff Keppinger and Mark Reynolds were also said to be on the team’s radar.
- 5:14pm: Reynolds is seeking a similar salary to the $7.5M he made in 2012. [Bryan Hoch]
- 4:42pm: The Yankees have been talking to the representatives for Mark Reynolds about playing third base. [Sherman]
- 1:20pm: The Yankees have been exchanging trade proposals with other teams about their players, including Curtis Granderson according to Buster Olney. He cautions that this is typical and the not necessarily an indication that something serious is brewing.
- 1:11pm: A deal between the Yankees and Youkilis is unlikely, and Keppinger remains the team’s top third base target. Agreeing to a contract length will be an issue. [Mark Feinsand]
- 10:56am: The Yankees checked in with Hannahan but are not very serious about signing him. Due diligence, I suppose. [Jordan Bastian]
- 10:16am: Nate Schierholtz is making “good progress” towards his next deal and the Yankees are considered the early front-runner to sign him. That would be swell in my opinion. [Buster Olney]
- 9:30am: The Yankees “really want” Keppinger and he could wind up with a three-year deal worth $13M. They’ve let Keppinger’s camp know they’ll give him two years. [Danny Knobler & Joel Sherman]
- There are “strong indications” the Yankees will not seriously pursue Pierzynski. A White Sox official indicated the catcher would be more willing to take a one-year deal with the Bombers than with any other team. [Sherman]
- Free agent infielder Jack Hannahan is also of “some interest” to New York. The 32-year-old is a great defensive third baseman who will draw a bunch of walks, but otherwise he can’t really hit. [Paul Hoynes]
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.
- 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.
- 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.
The Winter Meetings are only a day old, but they have yet to bring anything resembling good news to the Yankees. Alex Rodriguez will undergo surgery to repair some serious damage in his left hip next month, which will cause him to miss the start of the season. Now the club has to add a stopgap third baseman to a shopping list that already includes a starting right fielder, a starting catcher, a DH, a bench, and various depth players. Thankfully Spring Training is still more than two months away.
Joe Girardi will meet with the media at 5:30 ET today, but those things usually lack major news. Either way, I’ll have a recap. We’ll keep track of all the Yankees-related rumors and rumblings throughout the day right here, so make sure you check back in. Here are Monday’s rumors and here are today’s, with the latest up top (all times are ET):
- 8:56pm: The Yankees have asked to see Youkilis’ medicals, though the two sides remain far apart on the dollars. I do not like where this is going. [Barbarisi]
- 8:19pm: The Yankees remain in the mix for Scott Hairston. [Rosenthal]
- 7:25pm: Brian Cashman confirmed that they’ve had conversations with both Youkilis and A.J. Pierzynski. [Dan Barbarisi]
- 7:06pm: The Yankees are one of several teams with interest in Mark Reynolds. [Heyman]
- 7:05pm: Updated demands! Keppinger is reportedly seeking $12M across three years now. [Heyman]
- 6:02pm: The Yankees don’t want to break the bank on a third baseman even on a one-year deal. They’re nowhere close on money with Youkilis. [Curry]
- 4:15pm: The Yankees have met with Chavez’s agent at some point during the Winter Meetings and expressed an interest in re-signing him for next season. This was inevitable following A-Rod‘s injury. [Ken Davidoff]
- 3:33pm: Scutaro is seeking $24M across three years (!) while Keppinger is seeking $8M across two years. They’re basically the same player except Keppinger is five years younger. [Olney & Ken Rosenthal]
- 2:01pm: The Yankees have “very strong” interest in Jeff Keppinger and met with his representatives yesterday. The A-Rod injury accelerated their timetable. [Jeff Passan]
- 1:15pm: Kevin Youkilis is the top third baseman on the free agent market and the Yankees have spoken to his agent. The long-time Red Sox player is apparently open to a one-year contract if the money is good enough. [Jack Curry]
- 12:55pm: The Yankees have checked in on Shane Victorino, who figures to get multiple years. [Jerry Crasnick]
- 12:44pm: The Yankees have “likely interest” in Marco Scutaro, which means no one really knows if they have interest and are just guessing in the wake of A-Rod’s injury. [Ken Rosenthal]
- 9:43am: The Yankees are talking to multiple nameless third base candidates. Speculate at your own risk. [Heyman]
- 9:30am: The Yankees are open to discussing Curtis Granderson and Phil Hughes in trades. I wrote about what they could expect in return for their center fielder in a mailbag a few months ago, and I have a hard time seeing a realistic deal that would be worthwhile. [Buster Olney & Joel Sherman]
- Although he intends to play in 2013, the Yankees have yet to talk to Eric Chavez about a new contract for next season. That figures to change pretty quickly in the wake of A-Rod’s injury. [Sherman]
- Depending on who you ask, the Yankees either are or are not in on Yunel Escobar. I suppose they could have checked in before backing off. Considering their emphasis on strong makeup and character, I can’t imagine they would push hard to acquire him unless he came dirt cheap. [Jon Heyman, Jayson Stark & Olney]
Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.
The deadline to offer a contract to players with less than six years of service time was midnight last night, so a whole new batch of free agents hit the market as players were non-tendered. Most non-tenders are fringe roster players, but a few of them are actually worthwhile. The full list of non-tendered players is at MLBTR, and here are a few who could help the Yankees.
- 1B/3B Mark Reynolds: The Yankees have a serious lack of right-handed power right now — it’s Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, that’s it — and Reynolds would definitely fill that void. He could be an oft-used DH and third base backup while also filling in at first. Adding all those strikeouts to the lineup would stink, but I think it would be worth it for a guy on the right side of 30 who draws lots of walks (13.2 BB% last three years) and could hit 30+ dingers.
- OF Nate Schierholtz: I’ve written about Schierholtz a few times already, so I’ll just refer you back to that. If the Bombers want a young and cheap platoon bat for right field, they’re not going to find a better one on the open market.
- C Geovany Soto: Soto didn’t hit a lick this year (62 wRC+), but there’s at least some hope it’s BABIP-related (.222) and not irreversible erosion of his skills. He had a 95 wRC+ as recently as last season, though he is pretty poor defensively. With Russell Martin off to Pittsburgh, Soto may have the most upside (relatively speaking, of course) among free agent catchers.
- 3B Ian Stewart: The 27-year-old Stewart has battled wrist injuries in recent years, but if the medicals check out he could be a serviceable Eric Chavez replacement on the bench. He’s shown nice power when healthy and would benefit quite a bit from Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch. Risky though. Very risky.
Reynolds and Soto are worth more discussion and I’ll probably take a more in-depth look at them in the coming days. I know a lot of people will ask about Jair Jurrjens and John Lannan, but I wouldn’t touch either. Jurrjens has been trending in the wrong direction for a few years now and has also battled lots of injuries. Lannan is a soft-tossing lefty I wouldn’t trust in the AL East. If they want to take minor league contracts and are willing to sit in Triple-A as depth for a few months, sure. No guaranteed contracts though.
The trade deadline is 4pm ET on Tuesday, and the Yankees will definitely be in the market for a fill-in third baseman with Alex Rodriguez on the DL with a broken bone in his hand. Pitching help — both rotation and bullpen — could also be a target, though they figure to be done looking for outfielders following the Ichiro Suzuki pickup. We’re going to keep track of any Yankees-related trade deadline rumors right here throughout the day, so check back often for updates. The latest stuff will be on the bottom…
- Chase Headley is still an option for the Bombers, who could use him at third base while A-Rod is hurt and then potentially stick him in right field to replace Nick Swisher next season. The two sides have not exchanged names yet, and the Yankees worry the asking price will be too high [Ken Rosenthal & Joel Sherman]
- The Yankees did try to acquire Marco Scutaro before he was traded to the Giants on Friday night. They wanted Colorado to foot a significant portion of the $2.25M left on his contract, but that wasn’t happening. [Jon Morosi & Sherman]
- Rockies right-hander Rafael Betancourt is on the Yankees’ radar. He’s under contract for $4.25M next year and continues to post fantastic peripherals (2.88 FIP), though he’s one of the most fly ball prone pitchers in the game (career 29.6% grounders). You’re also going to pay a premium for a Proven Closer™ tag, so I prefer teammate Matt Belisle. [Troy Renck]
- The Yankees have not been aggressive in their pursuit of Headley but they have inquired. Don’t expect them to part with much of anything for a stopgap third baseman. [Marc Carig]
- Some other names that have popped up in the team’s third base search include Willie Bloomquist, Brendan Ryan, Yunel Escobar, Chone Figgins, Jose Lopez, Cody Ransom (!), Mark Reynolds, and Scott Rolen. Obviously some are more available and desirable than others. [Jon Heyman]
While the Red Sox were officially announcing the addition of Adrian Gonzalez, the Orioles were busy putting the finishing touches on a trade for Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds. The deal is done except for the physicals, with Arizona receiving relievers David Hernandez and Kameron Mickolio in return. Reynolds has hit 76 homeruns over the last two seasons, but he’s also struck out in 40.3% of his at-bats during that time. In fact, he’s the only player in baseball history to strike out at least 200 times in a single season, and he’s done it every year since 2008. Baltimore added some much needed power to their lineup, and that’ll make life that much tougher on the Yankees.
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.
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.