Was Mark Reynolds the right move?
December 10, 2012
It might not have been the big splash that most fans were hoping for, but the Cleveland Indians at least got their feet wet on Sunday night.
Of course, the move I refer to is the signing of first baseman Mark Reynolds. The Tribe inked Reynolds to a one-year deal worth $6 million with an additional $1.5 million in incentives on Sunday evening.
The 29-year-old Reynolds joins the Indians after a 2012 season with the Baltimore Orioles that saw him hit .221 with 23 HR, 69 RBI and an OPS of .763 in 135 games. Without a doubt, Reynolds fills two immediate needs of the Indians. First of all, he bats right-handed and secondly, he has power for days.
Yet, it’s also quite likely that a handful of Indians fans are somewhat unenthused in regard to the signing. Since the hiring of Terry Francona as Indians manager, fans have heard about a new approach that the Indians will be using in regard to managing the franchise. Unfortunately, a Mark Reynolds signing might not exactly be the approach that fans had expected.
The move is destined to generate some controversy. Because of his incredibly high strikeout totals, Reynolds is somewhat of a polarizing figure. Some fans laud him for his home run potential while others loathe him for the strikeouts.
Nonetheless, he is officially an Indian, so Tribe fans will at least have to get used to him playing first base for one season. Plus, there really are a lot of positives in regard to the signing. While Reynolds is far from a perfect player, he may have been the perfect signing given the Indians current situation. There are a number of different ways to look at the signing, and when all is said and done, the positives do seem to outweigh the negatives.
As most of us know, Reynolds was not the Tribe’s top first base target. The Indians made it clear that their man was Kevin Youkilis, who the Tribe offered a two-year deal worth $18 million to. The move to sign Reynolds basically signals that the Indians are out of the running for Youkilis as it would be hard to imagine that the team could sign Reynolds, Youkilis and still pursue outfielder Nick Swisher.
While Youkilis is clearly the better player than Reynolds, there are still a handful of reasons as to why the Reynolds signing may actually end up being the better move. Sure, Youkilis is better, but is he that much better?
Plus, consider the cost. The Indians were prepared to commit $18 million to Youkilis over two years, but the signing of Reynolds allows the team to have some more financial flexibility. For instance, they may now have more money to use to pursue Swisher. Or, in a perfect world, let’s say they still pursue Swisher and use some of the extra cash to try to sign a pitcher like Edwin Jackson. There’s a good chance they could not have done that had they inked Youkilis.
Also, while Youkilis is definitely the better, more patient right-handed hitter of the two, he is not the better, right-handed home run hitter of the two. Reynolds has power in bunches, and he immediately becomes the team’s top power threat.
For his career, Reynolds has an OPS of .807 and an ISO of .240. Clearly, this is a guy with great power. Outside of starting pitching, the Indians’ top two needs are unquestionably right-handed hitting and right-handed power. Reynolds fills both, and he comes at a cheaper price tag than Youkilis, so it’s really hard to fault the Indians here.
But… at the end of the day, it’s Mark Reynolds. He certainly has his warts and most fans are well aware of them.
Kevin Youkilis once was given the nickname “The Greek God of Walks.” If that’s the case, then Mark Reynolds has to be classified as “The Greek God of Strikeouts.” In his six-year MLB career, Reynolds has a total of 1,122 strikeouts compared to 408 walks. He has also led the league in strikeouts four straight years from 2008 to 2011. Over that four-year span, he struck out more than 200 times on three occasions. Pretty ugly stuff here.
The problem with Reynolds is that the strikeouts really diminish his value. For instance, Reynolds hit 23 home runs in 135 games last year, yet he had a WAR of -0.1. In fact, for his career, Reynolds has a WAR of 5.1 with three of those wins coming during the 2009 season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. For a guy with a 181 career home runs, it’s shocking to think that he barely has accounted for five total wins in his career.
The other problem with signing Reynolds is the fact that he simply was not the Indians top choice. Sure does not seem much like a new approach, right?
On so many occasions, whether it was in free agency or a trade, we saw the Indians settle for their second or third options instead of securing their top guy. For reference, consider the Cliff Lee trade from the summer of 2009. The Indians clearly wanted right-handed pitcher Kyle Drabek from the Philadelphia Phillies, yet they ended up settling for other prospects. In reality, they should have stood pat and held out for their guy as they had all the leverage (Lee was not a free agent until after the 2010 season), but they instead folded and took the deal that Philadelphia offered.
In comparison, apply the same theory to the current situation surrounding Reynolds and Youkilis. Youkilis was clearly the Indians top target, but rumors began to circulate that he would likely accept the New York Yankees offer for one-year at $12 million. However, if you truly believe that Youkilis is your guy, why do you let him go? Why not begin the dialogue again and see if he would come to Cleveland if an extra $1-$1.5 million were added to the deal?
As of now, it at least appears like that is an option the Indians did not feel compelled to explore as it now seems unlikely that Youkilis will become a member of the 2013 Indians.
Yet, for all the negatives attached with the signing of Reynolds, it really does seem that there are more positives. Remember that the Indians were prepared to sign Youkilis v. 2013, not Youkilis v. 2009. After this season, we might just find that there’s not as big of a difference between Youkilis and Reynolds as we think. It also comes down to needs, and Reynolds fills two of them immediately.
The bottom line is that at least the Indians did something. It may not have been an ideal first base target, but really no one was. Plus, this now may allow the team to turn up the heat in its pursuit of Swisher. Ask yourself, would you rather the Indians have Youkilis and then fall short in its offer to Swisher, or would you rather the team have a duo of Reynolds and Swisher? I’d certainly go with the latter.
Steve can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's what I like most about Reynolds. These are his 2012 splits.
None on: .205/.726
Runners on : .241/.811
Runners in scoring position: .286/.970
Scoring position and two out: .317/1.131
Bases loaded (9 at-bats): .333/.844
Pitchers aren't going want to face this guys with ducks on the pond. If we bat him behind Santana, Carlos might get more pitches to hit.
"We wanted them, but no one came".
This is what it is all coming down to. The Indians have been my team for almost 60 years,and even in the bad times, I never thought I would see this.
Right now the Royals (yes, Royals) are better than the Tribe - all the more reason it makes zero sense to do anything but blow the whole thing up. Instead they keep pissing away $$$.
I preferred Reynolds to Youkilis anyway so I'm happy with that. I'd be happier adding Jackson (3-4yrs) also. With Swisher too it would be just nuts.
As for Cabrera, I think if you keep him the lineup will obviously be better.....but the Indians lose out on a great chance to upgrade their starting pitching. He's kind of over valued by the fans and Aviles would be as good or better defensively, so I would take the pitching in a heartbeat. The question still remains if they can get the two ML ready impact arms they want.
But what's your thought on trading Cabrera now? I feel like we need to keep him to have the best line-up we can, Aviles isn't the solution if he goes
He gives us a RH power bat which is what we needed, but he is by no means a middle of the order hitter.
The good news is he's only here for 1 year and this team's chances of contending this season are pretty remote anyway.
Still, we've suffered through long slumps from so many players at least Reynolds will provide some thump when he's putting the ball in play. Almost half of his hits are for extra bases.
If he does start hot, he'll make good trade bait if the Indians fall out of contention early - as did guys like Kearns and Branyan in recent years which netted them Carrera, Diaz and McAllister.
First off, velocity out of the pen does not mean success, secondly (and more importantly) the Rays are not SIGNING Shields, they traded most of the farm for Shields. They gave up their three of their best prospects, two of whom were in B-R's top 50, for a 2/21 contract with Shields and 2/7.6 of Davis with club options through 2017 totaling 25 million. Who could Dolan have given up to get Shields? Besides, his great 2011 was fueled by a LOB% spike and incredibly low BABIP, he was still very good in 2012, but he wont have TB's great defense behind him so he may end up with an ERA closer to 4.00
I also wouldn't count Hosmer as a plus, he can't field and like Butler has always done, hits way too many ground balls, I think I'd rather gamble on Reynolds 2013 than Hosmer's.
But to seriously sit there and claim that this deal is terrible because it wasn't the bigger name and frequently injured guy is insane.
Youkilis: 122 G .235 AVG 19 HR 60 RBI 108 K's .771 OPS
Reynolds: 135 .221 AVG 23 HR 69 RBI 159 K's .763 OPS
Their stats are somewhat close but I'd still rather only spend 6 million on Reynolds (29) than 18 or more on Youkilis (33).
Since the Royals raised the bar, the Indians need to for sure obtain a legit LF and SP now. Also, trading Cabrera at this point will defeat the purpose of getting Reynolds
Also, before we go overboard on the Royals lineup, let's be a little real here. If the Indians had those guys people would be negative about them and wonder if they are for real. I mean Hosmer had a .663 OPS last year and Moustakas a .708 OPS. Cain had a .734 OPS. For all we know, those guys would be Matt LaPorta. Now, they are certainly talented and probably will be good....but I always find it interesting how the players on other teams are always so good even in poor or average years, yet the Indians players are so terrible by the same standards. Now doubt that Shields will help that rotation, although after him all the other starters are very questionable if you ask me and a lot like the Indians staff. I view them as a better team than the Indians right now, so it will be interesting to see what the Indians do this offseason.
And Andy and Carl, I agree with you. I think the Indians wanted to move on with other plans, hence the sudden signing of Reynolds. And I agree that really haven't committed anything financially. That should (hopefully) come with the signing of an outfielder and/or starting pitcher to a multi-year deal.
I like the signing and look at it as a cheaper, younger, right-handed version of Carlos Pena. Reynolds is a slightly below average to average defensive 1B that gets killed in advanced defensive metrics for a perceived lack of range. He's definitely a terrible defensive 3B, which is the biggest factor in his underwhelming career WAR.
"call 'em as I see", you might want to get some new glasses. Antonetti has done nothing, but, to bring in the Royals, or the horrific moves they've made, as like a positive example, is crazy. I think Dayton Moore's goal must be to have a "terrible trades, signings and draft choices" heading on his Wikipedia page, like Bill Bavasi. I can't even come up with a comparison of a bad trade scenario the Indians could pull off, since they haven't had a prospect like Wil Myers.