The Mark Reynolds Trade: Baltimore’s End

Perhaps addicted to the buzz surrounding him during the Justin Upton trade rumor bonanza, Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers continued to put his stamp on the team today by trading a guy who strikes out even more often than Upton: slugging third baseman Mark Reynolds. Baltimore is sending back young relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio to acquire Reynolds, who hit below the Mendoza line last season. How does this move fit in with where the Orioles are, and where they want to end up?

As ugly as Reynolds’ .198/.320/.433 line for 2010 looks, he did manage to increase his walk rate to go along with his 32 home runs, and his wOBA was about .328, which, when adjusted for park, made him about a league-average hitter. When the Diamondbacks extended him after his monstrous 2009 season at the plate (.260/.349/.543, 44 home runs), they thought they were getting a much better player than that. Still, at three years and $14.5 million dollars, the Diamondbacks still came out better than even last season. The Orioles are getting Reynolds with two years guaranteed left on the deal — $12.5 million plus a $0.5 million buyout on Reynold’s 2013 club option — so $13 million dollars over two seasons guaranteed. At five million dollars a win (earlier I thought that was optimistic, now it might be low; at this point it’s pretty much a guess), and assuming a very conservative 7% annual league salary inflation rate, that is paying Reynolds like he’s not quite a 1.5 WAR player.

Since the Orioles did give up cost-controlled assets to acquire Reynolds, they need him to be better than that (how much better is something I’ll discuss a bit below). Even last season, he was, at 2.4 WAR, and in his wonderful 2009, he was worth 3.6 WAR. Reynolds is 27, so his true talent is probably “as good as it gets” right now. But what is his true talent? He’s probably a better hitter than he seemed to be in 2010. Even if his strikeout rate continues at around 40%, his walk rate is increasing, something you’d expect from a player as he ages. Power wasn’t the problem this past season, either. While strikeouts and contact are always going to be a big issue for Reynolds, in 2010 his main issue was that on the rare occasions when he did put a ball into play it became an out more often than usual — thus his .257 BABIP. His career BABIP is .323. While he was probably hitting a fair bit “over his head” overall in 2009, it’s hard to imagine that he wasn’t a bit unfortunate in 2010. Something around .240/.340/.480 (with a ~.355 wOBA, around 15-20 runs above average over a full season) seems about right for 2011 if he stayed in Arizona.

Of course, he won’t be in Arizona. Although Camden Yards is a hitter-friendly park, it isn’t as favorable to right-handed hitters as Arizona, which, although it doesn’t usually assist fly balls from righties as much as Camden, greatly inflates their doubles and triples. Moreover, Reynolds will be facing American League pitchers in the toughest division in baseball. If he would have been a +15-20 hitter in Arizona, he’s probably closer to +10 in Baltimore. As for Reynolds’ defense at third, despite an apparent rebound in 2010, he’s generally considered a poor defender, although not bad enough that he would gain value by being moved to first if the Orioles want to give Josh Bell another chance at third. All things considered (including attrition). Reynolds is probably something like a 2-2.5 WAR player in 2011.

That is better than what the Orioles are paying him, and as a stopgap it’s certainly better than another Garrett Atkins experiment. Whether it’s the right move for the Orioles is open to debate. Hernandez couldn’t cut it as a starter, and if you’re going to move young talent, make it a reliever or two. Only the best relievers in the league come close to 2.5 WAR in a season, and I don’t think Hernandez or Mickolio are close to that yet, although Hernandez, at least, looks like he might do well (all those fly balls will be scary in the desert, though). There is something to be said for the Orioles just having a non-horrible presence at third (or first, if that’s what they decide to do, although Reynolds’ overall offense is much less impressive there). Unless one of the traded relievers turns into another Joakim Soria, this probably won’t hurt them too badly in the long-term (when they might be able to contend in the AL East), either, although Reynolds himself isn’t likely to be much help then. Overall, this looks like a fair trade for both sides that fills a need for the Orioles for the next couple of seasons.




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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.


53 Responses to “The Mark Reynolds Trade: Baltimore’s End”

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  1. Matt K says:

    I like the trade for the O’s. they have a stockpile of young arms, and trading away relievers vs any of their potential starters is a big win.

    They’ve needed a power bat in their lineup for a long time, and they finally get one in Reynolds. although his peripheral numbers aren’t as good as you’d want, for the money, it’s not a bad deal.
    I do wonder what this will mean for wiggy and luke scott.

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    • Canice Murphy says:

      A stockpile of young arms? Where? They have nothing. The Orioles are the worst run organization in just about any major sport.

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      • David says:

        do you even follow baseball? Matusz, Arrieta, Tillman, Britton. Tillman’s had the worst major league performance so far, but he’s also the youngest – last year was his age 22 season.

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      • Bill says:

        Seriously Candice? Even a horrible pessimist has to admit the O’s have a stockpile of good young arms. Aside from Matusz, their big league success has been limited, but they are all still very young. MacPhail has had to dig the O’s out of a very deep hole, but they are making progress. Look at the second half of last year as evidence.

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  2. Ethan says:

    “If he would have been a +15-20 hitter in Arizona, he’s probably closer to +10 in Baltimore.”

    What stat is this? And where can I find an explanation of what it means?

    Thanks!

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    • It is runs above what an average player would create given the same plate appearances. Hear at FanGraphs, it’s called wRAA or “Batting” (the park-adjusted form) on the player pages and leaderboards.

      Here’s a short explanation of wOBA, the main hitting stat we use here:

      http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-joy-of-woba/

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    • phoenix says:

      runs above average. as in his bat is 1.5 to 2 wins better than average in arizona, but more like 1 win above average in baltimore. he takes a hit from defense, which is partly why he is not being projected as a 3.5 to 4 win player in arizona and 3 win in baltimore.

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  3. phoenix says:

    even though he will be facing some nasty pitchers in the AL East, he faced his share of power pitchers in the NL West in mostly pitchers’ parks on the road. Hitting in the NL West is probably nearly as difficult as hitting in the AL East. Also, he will be playing 99 in baltimore, boston, and new york (im calculating that correctly right?) which are some pretty hitter friendly parks. i expect his power won’t regress much with the shift, although being new to the league’s pitchers may mean he has to adjust to them. But then again, they will have to adjust to him as well! and if his batted ball luck improves, the power stays the same, and his defense stays acceptable, he could really help the Os to have another bat they can count on in the lineup.

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    • Paul says:

      I like the point about pitchers adjusting to him, because if anybody is, Reynolds is the Walter Kovacs of baseball – “None of you seem to understand. I’m not locked in here with you. You’re locked in here with ME!”

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I saw Mark Reynolds face Zack Grienke.

        K’d his 1st 3 times, then hit a 3-run homer that gave Grienke the loss.

        That’s Mark Reynolds in a one game microview.

        He only has to connect once out of 20 pitches in order to be valuable. It’s insane.

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  4. Matt says:

    “Moreover, Reynolds will be facing American League pitchers in the toughest division in baseball”

    Granted, the AL East is the toughest division in baseball, but is it tough in a way that will actually affect him (i.e. does it have the toughest pitching)? Unfortunately for him though he’ll be playing for the team that probably has the worst pitching in the AL East.

    He’s coming from the NL West, which, last time I checked, has some pretty good pitching in it, so I’m not completely sold on him taking that big of a hit.

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    • Yeah, it’s combined with the park, too (although PetCo was no picnic, of course). I do think the AL in general has superior pitching, and he’ll be facing superior pitching on average than he did in the NL, for sure.

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      • Alireza says:

        I don’t think the league disparity is nearly as big for hitters as it is for pitchers, who have to face a DH.

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      • ElJoser says:

        While in 2010 Reynolds had pretty extreme home/raid splits, in 2008 and 2009 they were almost even. Believe it or not, up until this year, Reynolds actually had a higher ISO on the road vs at home.

        One thing not taken into account in this article is his thumb injury, which undoubtedly affected him towards the end of the season. He fell off a cliff in terms of batting average, and his line drive % fell by 5%!

        A healthy Reynolds is much better than he showed this past season

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  5. Alireza says:

    “Although Camden Yards is favorable to left-handed hitters, especially power hitters like Reynolds, it isn’t as favorable as Arizona, which combines something like Camden’s friendliness towards flyballs with its own inflation of doubles and triples.”

    Reynolds is Right-Handed all the way.

    Seriously, who has been editing FanGraphs lately? A lot of mistakes regarding big issues like handedness.

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  6. Reynolds is a righthanded hitter, not a lefty but, yeah, OPACY will reward him.

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  7. Michael says:

    Using Jack Moore’s park factors on HR’s: http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/481944/hrparkfactors.png – Camden is far more favorable to righties than AZ.

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    • Interesting. I was using Stat Corner’s component and general park factors.

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    • Okay, I looked at Jack’s post, and he’s using Stat Corner factors, too. Jack is is talking about home runs, but as I say in the post — while Camden is better for HRs for RHH, Arizona is better for 2Bs and 3Bs, which adds up to in Arizona having a overall more hitter-friendly environment for RHH than Camden.

      Thanks for the comment.

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      • Alireza says:

        3Bs don’t seem to factor in for Reynolds, who, despite having decent speed, has never hit more than 4 in a year and hit just 1 in his career year of 2009. As for 2Bs, he also isn’t exactly a big producer, with his best year also coming in 2009 with 30. He hit a paltry 17 last year.

        Reynolds is an extreme flyball hitter (when he actually does make contact, even the most SABR-conscious person cannot defend that whiff rate) and saw his LD and GB rate drop further last year, which means that 2Bs and 3Bs are a lot less in play.

        I actually think for Reynolds that Camden Yards might benefit him. The lower number of strikeout/power pitchers in the AL East might also suit him well.

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      • Paul says:

        I tend to agree with Alireza on Camden benefitting him, especially if he keeps up the increasing pull tendency. Then again, the distance on his homers to center from 2009 was plenty enough to play there. My point on the pull tendency is to follow on the RH home run factor at Camden – I’ve only seen a few hit there, and it’s a small sample, but it looked to me like there is a nice jet stream out to dead left.

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      • Alireza says:

        I actually think his shots to CF will play better in Camden Yards as well, given that giant wall in Arizona.

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  8. DIVISION says:

    Mark Reynolds instantly becomes B-more’s best power bat…….and that speaks to how weak their lineup was.

    Hopefully Buck can get Mark to up his contact rate so he can have a bounce-back year.

    Also, for those of you intimating that somehow his production will take a hit moving from the NL West to the AL East……….do you realize how good the rotations are in the West? Several of the best starters in MLB are in the NL and specifically the NL West. I don’t think Reynolds is going to change anything in terms of his approach.

    I see him performing similiar to his 2009 slash line, would not be surprised to see his HR rate go up as well when/if BABIP rebounds.

    His defense is average to plus, or better if you agree with UZR.

    If you’re Baltimore you have to love this type of heavy upside move.

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    • My echo and bunnymen says:

      The logic behind the pitchers doesn’t make to me either. I think they’ll be better off just saying that the AL East is the toughest division in baseball and Reynolds’s will be fine but Baltimore is still aways off from competing for the division. Since it seems like that is the logic behind his hypothetical lost production.

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      • DIVISION says:

        Reynolds will smash a Bucholtz, Price or Sabathia FB the same he did to Lincecum, Halladay, Kershaw……

        He’ll get more pitches to hit playing in Baltimore than he did in Arizona, guaranteed…

        With the rebound in BABIP and some help with contact rate, he’ll be fine…….

        Word is (through his agent) that Reynolds isn’t happy about going to Baltimore, though.

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      • Alireza says:

        Kershaw and Lincecum own Reynolds

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Kershaw and Lincecum own Reynolds

        I doubt there’s any hitter that “owns” either one of those guys.

        I’ve seen TL55 make Albert look downright foolish on low sliders.

        I mentioned in another thread, the only time I’ve seen Reynolds live, he K’d his 1st 3 times against Grienke. On a 3-2 count with 2 on, 1 pitch away from a Sombrero, he deposited a slider in to the left-center seats and Grienke lost.

        That’s the beuty of Reynolds. You know what he is and what he does, it’s all a matter of when he makes contact.

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  9. JHC21 says:

    If all AZ could get for Reynolds was a couple relievers why even do it?

    The shine will come off Towers mystical relief powers after a season or two away from the friendly confines of Petco.

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    • DIVISION says:

      I’m not all that thrilled about the signing of Melvin Mora, though.

      This is essentially KT waving the white flag on the season……….and there’s nothing positive about this.

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      • craig says:

        I have to agree with this. As an O’s fan living in AZ, I am truly baffled that the D-Backs would move Reynolds and pick-up Mora.

        Mora is a horrible option and will throw his teammates/manager under the bus (like he did to Dave Trembley in 2009). How you trade a slugger for a guy who’ll be 39 years old and who’s better days are clearly behind him is beyond my comprehension.

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  10. Boomer says:

    7% is not conservative for inflation and certainly not “very conservative.”

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    • Alireza says:

      Baseball inflation and real-world inflation rarely have much to do with each other.

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      • hk says:

        I agree. If anything, baseball salary inflation probably follows more closely to stock (and other capital) markets returns than with inflation or other economic statistics. The owners have probably recouped most or all of their market losses since two off-seasons ago and their portfolios are probably well ahead of where they were 12 months ago; therefore, they’re more comfortable spending (or overspending) on the likes of VMart and Werth.

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  11. cs3 says:

    ***”Moreover, Reynolds will be facing American League pitchers in the toughest division in baseball.If he would have been a +15-20 hitter in Arizona, he’s probably closer to +10 in Baltimore.”***

    is this implying that the AL east has significantly better pitching than the NL west? do you have numbers, to support this? im curious to see the difference because i always thought the NL west was regarded as one of the very strongest pitching divisions.

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  12. Scout Finch says:

    “At five million dollars a win (earlier I thought that was optimistic, now it might be low; at this point it’s pretty much a guess),…”

    Please excuse my ignorance, but does this have more to do with the inflated value of a win or an increased disparity between the talents of a MLB player eligible for free agency versus a replacement level player just trying to cut his teeth.

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  13. shoewizard says:

    Probably not much of a factor, but it’s notable that Reynolds is from Virginia Beach. I think he’ll like playing in Baltimore. He’ll hate the losing, but thats all he was gonna get in AZ too.

    It may be a factor. His nickname in the minor leagues was “Parking Lot”….because when things went bad he could be found sitting on the ground by himself just beside himself with rejection. He gets down on himself when things go south. Maybe being closer to home and his support system will be a big plus for him.

    Personally I think this is a classic sell low on AZ’s part. It should be mentioned that Reynolds BABIP collapse was mostly due to bad contact, not bad luck, as his LD rate collapsed and his IF/F soared.

    Still he was playing hurt from May onwards……first Quad injury, then a beaning on August 3rd, and he finished up the season with a wrist injury. Very strong bounceback candidate.

    Meanwhile….AZ signed Melvin Mora. Woo Hoo !!

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  14. shoewizard says:

    typo…meant to say dejection…not rejection

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  15. adohaj says:

    Too bad the jays didn’t go for him he would work well with their hitting philosophy

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  16. Phantom Stranger says:

    Reynolds will have no problem hitting homeruns in Baltimore, he does not hit a lot of cheap homeruns. He might even have the most raw power of anyone in the game at the moment. Expect a rebound over last season’s dreadful numbers, though in balance I expect this trade to be a net zero for both sides.

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  17. B N says:

    I like this trade for Baltimore. Honestly, relievers are volatile and combustible commodities. Baltimore has an average to significantly above average player at a premium position, for the cost of two relievers who have yet to prove themselves. The difference in injury risk alone probably makes this a win for the Orioles. 3B guys blow out their arms a whole lot less than RPs…

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  18. Scout Finch says:

    Maybe someone in Baltimore recommends Reynolds not “swing so fucking hard” and he hits puts the ball in play a little more often.

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    • je says:

      right…so his SLG drops, walks less, and he hits more weak ground balls. good idea.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      You might as well ask a Great White Shark not to be so scary.

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      • Scout Finch says:

        For the sake of baseball, I’m glad neither of you is in a front office somewhere.

        For the sake of a little league squad, I hope neither of you is a coach.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        You’ll be happy to know that I am a school administrator, high school pitching coach, junior high pitching coach, and coach 3 youth sports, and work with 1 travel team.

        Here’s the difference between those situations, and I’m hopeful you understand the difference.

        The kids I coach have NOT had the same swing & approach for 20 years (and been highly successful with it). You understand human behavior and habits, and probably even muscle memory and the associated neuromuscular relationships.

        You also likely understand the difficulty at the major league level.

        So, you’re basically suggesting that a player whose primary, and perhaps only, real value is the longball, radically adjust his swing and approach to fit your preference … while undoing his old habits, learning a new swing, AND doing it all while still being productive.

        Ben Zobrist and Andres Torres sought private instruction outside of their respective organizations, and worked for 2 years including off-season to get the swing help they needed. That’s the type of thing that is required. It’s not simply a matter of his “not swinging so hard”. Those guys were willing to do it because without the radical change they’d never be major leaguers.

        I’ve never analyzed Reynolds swing, but my guess is he is like most power hitters in that they have a true “c-path swing”, where the barrel is not in the zone for a very long time … so he either connects it well or he doesn’t.

        Like I said, good luck redesigning his swing, at his age, at his level.

        Working with a 13yo, would be a completely different situation.

        I understand why you say “no swing so F’ing hard”, but that’s not really an option …. just as “not throwing so hard” would be the cure for throwing more strikes.

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      • Bill says:

        If Reynold’s reaches a point where he is no longer valuable, then he may need to reinvent himself, but at this point, it would be foolish to mess with his approach too much.

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      • Scout Finch says:

        Apologies to you CC11. You were unjustly targeted. I see what you mean.

        You know the saying: the harder the batter swings, the softer the pitcher should throw.

        A guy coming out of his shoes every time he swings with zero 2 strike adjustment is just asking to hit near the Mendoza line with 200+K’s.

        I wonder why Aaron Rowand is unable to modify his ridiculous stance when it is clearly not working. You may very well be correct about not being able to teach an old dog new tricks.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        No harm, no foul.

        I don’t think many fans understand how difficult it is as the ML level.
        A great majority of the players are simply in “survival mode” and are using whatever they can to stay there. Certainly Reynolds doesn’t K a lot because it’s more fun that grounding out. It’s humiliating, and I’m sure he hears about it in every ballpark he plays in.

        Guys like Howard and Reynolds have incredible bat speed (same with Prince Fielder, etc), but due to the C-patch the are going to K a lot and hit the ball very, very, very far. If you were to stand next to them when they swung, it would literally sound like a light-saber.

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  19. Will says:

    Is it bad that, until today’s post titled “The Mark Reynolds Trade: Arizona’s End,” I assumed the title of this post was meant to convey that trading for Reynolds was a harbinger of the end of the Baltimore Orioles franchise?

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  20. oodood says:

    Canice, the Orioles 1. have plaenty of young arms ( Matusz, Britton, Arrietta, Tillman, Erbe….) and 2. while certainly poorly run, are they not the worst run organizartion in sport. Ever heard of the Pirates, LA Clippers or Redskins to name a few?

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