When Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reported that the Orioles were shopping 3B Mark Reynolds, my ears perked up just a little bit. Some mornings an interesting piece of news that finds its way to my phone is even more effective than a really strong cup of coffee when it comes to jarring me awake. My first thought when I saw this was that the A’s should certainly kick the tires on Reynolds at the very least.
I know most believed Billy Beane and co. would stick with converted catcher Josh Donaldson at 3rd, and no movement has been made as far as looking outside the organization for a solution at this point, so Donaldson appears to be the guy at this point. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am less than enthusiastic about a converted catcher with 53 games in 4 years at 3rd being our man on Opening Day.
Granted, Mark Reynolds is an extremely flawed player, but his main strength is exactly what the A’s are lacking, raw unmitigated power. Even in 2010, the season he finished with a .198 batting average, he still had 32 home runs to his credit. He will never ever hit for average, even at halfway decent levels. I don’t want to turn this article into an argument about player value and whatnot, but I can ignore the horrific average if the power remains. Of the 2012 hold overs from the 2011 squad (Not counting Scott Sizemore), only Jemile Weeks had an OPS over .700. I know the A’s lack of power is not exactly breaking news, but this fact really took me by surprise.
Obviously the additions of players like Yoenis Cespedes, Jonny Gomes, Seth Smith, and Josh Reddick (And Manny Ramirez eventually) will help bolster the power potential of this team, but only Cespedes is expected to have above average power, and actually get regular playing time. Smith and Reddick figure to find the field more than Gomes, but neither boasts more than average power potential. And Manny, well he gets a 50 game sabbatical to start the season.
Reynolds is also famous for being the game’s most prolific strikeout artist, boasting 200+ K’s in 3 out of 4 full seasons in the Majors. But again, I’m willing to overlook that fact in exchange for the chance that he might run into 30 or so balls in 2012 and hit them really… really far.
The one aspect of his game that really does give me pause is his defense. It was well documented in 2011 that the A’s defense failed the team miserably, and well, Reynolds glove failed him in 2011 to the tune of 26 errors at the hot corner. Josh Donaldson, the aforementioned front runner in the 1 horse race for the 3B job had just 4 errors in 27 games in Sacramento last year. He started most games this spring at 3rd as well, committing only 3 errors in 17 games during the Cactus League. So Donaldson definitely seems to have the edge defensively.
Ultimately I think this is still a trade worth exploring for the A’s. Consider this, the Orioles acquired Reynolds from the Diamondbacks last offseason for two relievers, David Hernandez and Kameron Mickolio. Not exactly a king’s ransom if you ask me. Reynolds is in the final guaranteed year of his contract, an $11 Million team option looms for 2013, but he’s at a very affordable $7.5 Million for 2012. If you can get the Orioles to kick in a portion of the salary, this could be a steal.
Would the A’s consider sending someone in the Chris Carter/Michael Taylor camp to get it done? Neither of them seem to be in the A’s current or future plans, and I could see either of them flourishing in Baltimore. If Reynolds came to Oakland and succeeded, the A’s can pick up the option and then perhaps work on a longer term contract. If not, a $500K buyout makes him someone else’s problem. Either way due to Reynolds obvious shortcomings, I think his next contract could be rather affordable, and the A’s don’t exactly have the next Evan Longoria in the pipeline (This includes you Stephen Parker). If I’m the GM of the A’s, I’m calling Dan Duquette and getting this deal done. Sorry Josh.