The Baltimore Orioles have until midnight tonight to either offer first baseman Mark Reynolds arbitration, or a new contract, but neither seems likely to happen at this point. It’s been expected all off-season that the Orioles would decline his $11.5 million dollar option and it seemed a toss-up as to whether they would offer him arbitration or not. What seems a bit silly to me is that there has been no dialogue between the team and Reynolds on possibly working out a new contract to keep him with the team for at least 2013.
Reynolds is one of the hardest working players on the team and has been that way even before he came over to the Orioles from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He’s a guy that truly cares about doing well and helping his team any way that he can. That effort and desire to succeed may not always how up on the stat line, especially his batting average or strikeout numbers, but he does offer quite a few things of value.
He’s capable of hitting a homerun at any point in an at-bat, he sees a lot of pitches – which leads to him getting on base via the walk quite often, and he’s managed to prove himself to be a capable defender at first base. The list of players on the free agent market that can do the things he can do is a short one, and when I say a short one I mean essentially non-existent unless you count Adam LaRoche – which I don’t because he’ll be 34 years old next season and I wouldn’t want to invest the years or money it would require to sign him at this point in his career.
Mike Napoli is another consideration for first base but he is essentially a Mark Reynolds lite who can play catcher and first base. He’s also two years older than Reynolds and his career high in games played is 140, which he accomplished in 2010. His second highest games played in a season is 114 – not exactly the kind of durability you look for when you sign someone to play a corner infield position and expect to be a source of power in the lineup.
Reynolds is still just 29 years old and should have another two or three years of his prime left to contribute at a high enough level to warrant a multi-year commitment, by someone. Between his power potential, ability to wear a pitcher down by drawing walks, and the fact that he could still put up a batting line around .250/.340/.500 will make Reynolds an interesting solution at first base for teams that have a need there (Red Sox). Especially since the next best options at that position are Adam LaRoche, who will be 34 years old during the 2013 season, Mike Napoli, who prefers to catch more than play first base and can’t stay healthy for long periods of time, and then the enigmatic James Loney.
When you look at that list of players available on the free agent market that can play first base, Mark Reynolds all of a sudden looks that much more desirable. He may not be flashy, outspoken enough to draw attention to himself, or even someone who seeks out the attention of the camera and highlight reels – but he is someone you can count on coming to work every day and giving you maximum effort while being a good teammate.
The batting average and strikeout numbers are alarming and not so pleasant to look at, but he provides a great deal of value in other ways that are often overlooked because we have a tendency to get too wrapped up looking at two metrics that are a bit outdated and somewhat useless when trying to evaluate a players worth these days.