Off Season Outlook: Mark Reynolds

The king of the K’s has once again hit the open market and today we’re going to take a look at him and using his numbers see what kind of market he has.  Remember that Reynolds may be known for his career 31.9% strike out rate but he also has been known as one of the more well-known power threats in baseball in his career.  Balancing such a costless-swinging power threat as Reynolds is going to take some work for some teams but if they can it may be worth their time and the risk.

The Arizona Diamondbacks drafted Reynolds back in 2004 in the 16th round with the 15th pick of the round, needless to say not much was expected of him.  However Reynolds proved himself quite well in the minors and in 2007 made his MLB debt doing very well and becoming the team’s main third baseman.  His stock improved each year with improved numbers across the board; this success however also came at the cost of many strikeouts.  In fact he broke the single season strikeout record in 2008 and again in 2009. 2009 was his final season of elite play though and all his significant stats started taking a major dive until 2014.

2014 for Reynolds was his worst season to date in some areas and on the other hand raised some interesting questions.  His slash line of .196/.287/.394 marks his lowest career batting average and on-base percentage of his career and while his lowered batting average shouldn’t be looked on as a negative, we expected that and as we know BA’s really don’t tell us much, his on-base has been trending down since 2009 and is a bad sign for him.  His overall offense suffered this year as well only having a weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 87 which puts him at 13% below league average in runs created.  His offensive WAR also took a hit having 2 straight seasons of negative offensive WAR, this years ending at -5.0 and being his career worst.  Lastly we have the obvious strikeouts and 2014 continued the trend of over 100 strikeouts and finishing the season with 154.

Strengths

So that last paragraph really makes signing Reynolds a bad thing but there are some numbers that actually say that he’s not only worth a signing but he could/should be a starter.  Starting with the most unbelievable stat first, his strikeouts are trending down and have been since 2011.  In 2011 he ended the season at 196 and the next 3 seasons he ended the season with 159, 155, 122 strikeouts.  At the relatively you age of 31 this is an interesting development for him and is something that every team should note.  Reynolds actually has been a model of consistency for years now and it wasn’t till 2013-14 that his OBP really dropped below league average; in fact he has a career OBP of .324, which is ever so slightly above league average.  While not known as a strong walker he does own a career walk rate of 11.6% and it’s been consistently between 10%-13% since 2007.             

Lastly there is the famous Mark Reynolds' power and this writer has yet to even discuss his power numbers this entire time because it is a marvel.  Reynolds has only had an ISO below .210 twice in his career, 2013 and last season, but his .198 ISO in 2014 may say that his 2013 was an off year.  Reynolds numbers are so crazy he has more career homeruns (224) than he has both doubles and triples combined (182).  The fact that his 2014 BABIP was so low, almost 70 points below his career average, leads yours truly to believe that had he been on par he could have had one heck of a season and his ISO and OPS may have taking a hit because of bad luck.

Weaknesses

Lets get the easy one out of the way; Reynolds is a strikeout machine and while he is lowering the totals he still strikes out a lot.  Ironically its not the swing rate that’s the issue, though a career 47.7% swing rate is an issue, it’s the terrible 64.9% contact rate and that is what will lead to many strikeouts.  Reynolds is known for his power not his glove; Reynolds has only had 2 seasons in his entire career where he’s had a positive defensive WAR and some of those negative seasons got as bad as -29.6.  He is at the end of his prime years and there are some negative trends showing up in his OBP and, as one would expect, the batting average but the declining OBP is a bigger worry than the batting average.

Contract

Reynolds isn’t coming off a good season and that will affect the payday he could expect.  Teams will take a look but I wouldn’t expect anything more than maybe $3 million a year as the absolute most per year contract.  This writer is not confident that he would even be able to make that much per year and would guess closer to $1.2-$1.5 per year.  Looking at the numbers and some of the difficulties he had last season but also seeing the potential signing to a 1-year $2 million contract would be a nice deal for the team, if the numbers do end up averaging out that is.

Teams

Tampa Bay Rays - This seems like a long shot but the team could use a strong DH option and the team has always struggled to have consistent power.  While we still need to see the affect on the team losing both their GM and manager within a few weeks of each other the team has to move forward and do what it can.  Reynolds would be a major downgrade in defense so he would be a DH only for the Rays.

Toronto Blue Jays - The Jays are a team that has had solid offense production but has had its fair share of injuries.  Reynolds could be a nice fill in player for them if a player like Brett Lawrie gets hurt as he normally does.  More likely another DH fill in for the team but since the team could use him in other positions it makes him a nice cheap option.

Chicago White Sox - With Paul Konerko retiring the team is going to need a new DH and Reynolds could fit well.  The team isn’t ready to compete just yet but at the same time they don’t have anything to really fill in for Konerko so Reynolds does fit the numbers they need.  Much like the Blue Jays he could be a nice back up plan just in case Abreu has injury issues.

Kansas City Royals - If the team can’t sign back Billy Butler than they’re going to need someone to fill the DH slot.  Reynolds may not be the best fit for a team trying to duplicate its 2014 like the Royals will be but he is an option.  Look for the team to kick the tires at least and see if a deal could be made.

Oakland Athletics - A team looking for in constant need to find a new power hitter and Reynolds could help.  The A’s actually can have a few uses for him as well not just as a platoon DH with Steven Vogt but also as a platoon option with Brandon Moss at first.  Not a bad fit for Reynolds and the A’s can use him in multiple ways; consider this one of his best landing spots.

Philadelphia Phillies - Ryan Howard is terrible and a platoon with Reynolds could see some good return.  Yes, Reynolds would be a liability to the team’s defense but Howard’s numbers last year hid one of the worst seasons by a starting first baseman and they’d need to upgrade at some point and Reynolds would be a good stop gap.

Milwaukee Brewers - Even though the Brewers went out and grabbed Adam Lind, who will likely take up the bulk of first base duties, the team could use Reynolds for one rather large reason.  Lind can’t hit lefties what so ever and Reynolds can, this could be a dream platoon for the team since having two strong offensive options that they can fill in depending on who they face.  The team has experimented with this last year and found great success so why not do it again?

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