From rumors to news, things moved pretty quickly between Mark Reynolds and the Brewers. Adam McCalvy is reporting the two sides are very close to what will be yet another minor league deal.
While this move means the Brewers remain the only team to have not signed a major league free agent this offseason, Tom Haudricourt says that Reynolds has been virtually guaranteed a spot on the team's opening day roster out of spring training.
Reynolds is still just 30 years old, so it's not too far out of the realm of possibility that he could still be a worthwhile player, particularly with consistent playing time. He played with the Orioles and Yankees last year, but he was too young for the Yankees to re-sign. He'll have his share of frustrations, naturally, with poor defense and a propensity for striking out. Boy does he strike out! He led the league in whiffs four times, with an MLB record 223 strikeouts in 2009. He has been called out on strikes once in every three at-bats over his career!
But he also comes with power and a decent eye at the plate. He hasn't batted above .221 since '09, but takes enough walks to maintain a mostly-tolerable on base percentage. He has also socked over 20 home runs in every year but his rookie season, with a career-high of 44 long balls set in 2009 (he was busy that year). With consistent playing time, I don't think it's unreasonable to believe he could still bat .220/.320/.450 with a shot at 30ish homers.
Reynolds has been better against lefties than right-handers in his career, OPSing 834 against the former and 777 against the latter. Neither of those sound particularly bad, especially after what the Brewers went through in 2013 at first base. Small sample size and all, but he has also hit .275/.373/.569 in 15 career games in Miller Park. Part of that is the fact he has gotten to face Brewers pitching, but a player like him also has a good chance to thrive in a ballpark like Miller.
Reynolds is about as good as the Brewers could do at this point. The only other options were probably re-signing Yuniesky Betancourt or giving up a draft pick for Kendrys Morales. Nobody wants to see either of those things happen, so thankfully Reynolds likely prevents the team from making that type of move.
In past years, Mark Reynolds might be seen as a fun, low-risk move. A guy who could be exciting to watch because of his power if you can look past his flaws. Since the Brewers have had a taste of success and the club believes it can still be successful, having a minor league signing be the likely starter at first is a little more of a bitter taste. But in the end, he's a better option than most others, he's cheap, and he hits dingers.
Reynolds only competition for the first base job right now are Juan Francisco and Sean Halton, with an outside shot that Hunter Morris impresses enough to make the roster out of spring.
And if you're still not happy about the Brewers first base situation, well, you can always look at it this way:
Mark Reynolds produced 0.4 fWAR in 2013, or exactly 5.0 WAR more than all 2013 Brewers 1B.— Jack Moore (@jh_moore) January 17, 2014