Luckily for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Mark Reynolds just missed out on Super 2 status for the 2010 season. That means the 3 year, $14.5 million contract Reynolds signed on Monday will carry him through his first and second arbitration seasons. The contract also contains an $11 million club option on his final arbitration season.
With 72 HR and 199 RBI in the last two seasons for Reynolds, a comparison to Dan Uggla seems apt. Uggla will earn $7.8 million this season on top of a $5.35 million reward in his first arbitration season, with his $13.15 total falling just short of Reynolds’ new deal. In the context of actual arbitration rewards, this contract appears to be fair for both sides.
When it comes to judging players on HR and RBI, as the arbitrators tend to do, the club is often going to lose on players like Reynolds. The Diamondbacks appear to be acknowledging that with this contract, as Reynolds is receiving $14 million for the equivalent of exactly one free agent season in the final two seasons of the deal. Reynolds is a fine player, as he showed last year with a 4 win performance, but with the downturn in the market, it’s unlikely that he is worth that much money.
CHONE, Marcel, and the fans all project a dip in home runs for Reynolds, backed by likely regression from a ridiculous 26% HR/FB rate in 2009. Without these home runs, Reynolds is a good-but-not-great hitter – his projected .363 wOBA is in line with last year’s performance by Paul Konerko. His fielding has now been below average for three straight seasons. This is not to say that he’s not valuable – almost every team could use a 27 year old 3B with a 3.0 WAR skillset. That doesn’t mean, however, that the market will be kind to the club holding his rights. Indeed, it seems like the Diamondbacks were forced to pay $14M for what is projected to be around $10.5M of arbitration market value.
Despite the negativity above, this contract certainly beats having to pay market value for Reynolds’ production for Arizona, and it was inevitable that Reynolds would receive a high contract relative to his production. Josh Byrnes may be trying to take advantage of the lull in the market for player contracts and attempting to squeeze all the production out of the current low value of wins while he can. If the market picks up in future seasons, as I expect it will, this contract could pay dividends to Arizona in a couple of years.