Taking a Swing at a Mark Reynolds Trade

Mark Reynolds’ skill set is one of the most combustible in the majors and this season he busted more than he boomed. That Kevin Towers is supposedly looking to shear some strikeouts from his new roster means Reynolds is almost certainly on the market. Those familiar with Towers’ dealings, like Padres fan Marc Normandin, suggested as much moments after Towers took over. If such presage comes to fruition, then we should witness one of the most interesting trades in recent memory.

The 26-year-old third baseman is due $5 million next season and is under team control through the 2013 season at a cost of roughly $23.5 million. Towers’ trade partner may only be concerned with the next season or two if acquiring Reynolds to push his team over the top, but assume that Reynolds’ performance over the duration of the deal is under the microscope. What are we to make of his prospects?

Reynolds fans a lot. In 2007, he broke onto the scene striking out 35.2% of the time. That number has increased in each subsequent season (now up to 41.9%) and even those who refuse to trust trends over weighted averages have to admit the roof on Reynolds’ strikeouts sits uncomfortably high, even in an era where high-power, strikeout-heavy hitters are romanticized more than ever before.

Finding a comparable is difficult. Dave Kingman struck out a lot, but as much as Reynolds has over such an established length of time. Adam Dunn strikes out a lot and yet his career average (32%) would represent a career-low for Reynolds. Rob Deer might be the truest comparison and his career took the form of a downward spiral after turning 27.

How do other teams evaluate Reynolds? Do any teams view Reynolds as Dunn with fewer walkways and more holes in the wall? Does any team hold a belief that their hitting coaches and instructors could work tirelessly with him and curb his hackitude? Do they view him as a two-win player with four-win potential, or as something more with league-average downside?

There is a lot of risk involved in each aspect of a Reynolds’ deal. The acquiring team risks Reynolds flaming out while on their payroll. Without knowing the suitors or the asking price, the opportunity cost does not lend itself easily to speculation.

The aforementioned Normandin – who knows Towers’ tendencies about as well as anyone in the analytical community – suggests that Towers would probably take a stack of arms the other organization considers disposable. Think the Jake Peavy deal, which lifted a burdensome contract from San Diego’s books while allotting four usable arms into the system.

Towers runs the risk of angering the portion of his new fan base with their minds on home runs and runs batted in, while also placating those with phobia of strikeouts. To complicate manners, Towers has no obvious heirs in his cabinet and a parched free agent class presents few temptations. There’s a chance the D-Backs could run with filler at third base next year which means they would probably want at least one player near the majors in order to avoid a total public relations meltdown if/when the new third baseman failed to lace up Reynolds’ offensive boots.

Occasionally a trade becomes a microcosm for the player involved. This is one of those cases, as a Reynolds’ deal stands a good chance of becoming a homer or a strikeout.




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41 Responses to “Taking a Swing at a Mark Reynolds Trade”

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  1. Dan says:

    Toronto Blue Jays seem like a great trade partner.

    Toronto (80-75) is good enough to be adding parts rather then selling.

    Edwin Encarnacion is the only player in the way of the 3rd base job.

    In case anyone hasn’t noticed, Toronto has become a big fan of the long balls.

    Toronto has plenty of pitching depth.

    The big hinderence to the trade would obviously be: does Toronto value its pitching depth more than an Reynolds at 3rd?

    Don’t know. But Toronto is a good place to start some trade speculation.

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  2. LeeTro says:

    I think the ballpark he moves to will play a lot into his future success. If he can move to a park that depresses average and favors power (White Sox, e.g.), his low average won’t hurt as much and his power will be boosted more than the average player. I think we can all imagine Kenny Williams trading for such an enigma too.

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    • Josh says:

      That would be a very KW thing to do, but Ozzie abhors strikeouts. He loves guys like Juan Pierre who never strike out and have zero power. Based on that philosophy, Reynolds is the last player Ozzie would want on his team. Not to mention, it looks like the Sox will give Brent Morel a real shot at 3rd next year.

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      • James says:

        I disagree he’s a KW type of guy… If he only had 1 year left on his deal, maybe, or at the trading deadline if the Sox were in contention and getting nothing out of 3B. But not this offseason with 3 seasons left on his deal.

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    • skippyballer486 says:

      I wonder how much value is in the opposite approach. Adam Dunn has been just as good, maybe better (compared to league average) hitting in Washington. This is probably because his homers never tended to go barely over the fence. His big hits would be out of Yellowstone, and he picks up a few extra singles without losing much. I’m hardly an expert at using HitTracker, but Reynolds has been in the top 5 in the NL in no-doubt home-runs the past two years, maybe a switch to a bigger ballpark wouldn’t hurt as much as expected.

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  3. Spoilt Victorian Child says:

    R.J., if you have any heirs, I hope you don’t think they are supposed to be kept in a cabinet.

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  4. Rickey says:

    Dude! This is Rickey representing Rickey! Dude, you need an outfielder! You need to sign me!

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  5. Kirsh says:

    Reynolds shouldn’t be traded right now. He’s been a pretty average player all around this year. His Ks will always be a downer on him, but the D’Backs need to give him a year to get his average up a little bit. His BABIP is .255, about 70 points below his career average, because he’s not hitting any line drives this year. He’ll be better next year. There’s no possible way he has a worse season, I don’t think. His value will be greater at the deadline. Towers will grab a front line prospect for him.

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    • Mark says:

      His LD% has gone down every year of his career, as has his GB%, which means his BABIP (an subequently, his average) will be lower. He’s at best a .250 hitter in the future, and he will always be a below-average defensive third baseman (-1.5 UZR this year, -11 each of the previous two years). His 2.1 WAR this year is the second best of his career, and he’s never been higher than 3.5 WAR. Considering he’s owed over $20 million for the next three years, there almost zero chance Towers can get a front-line prospect in return.

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      • Kirsh says:

        It depends on how saber-oriented the front office is of the team he’s traded to. If they see someone in his theoretical prime years who had 40 home runs a year ago and think he can get back to it, they’ll pay up for him. He’s a one-trick pony, but home run hitters who strike out are romanticized, as the RJ said.

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      • TribeFanV says:

        Going along with the batted ball thing, Reynolds is hitting a ton of pop-ups this year. It’s a disheartening trend for one of my favorite players.

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      • Randy says:

        His LD% has declined every year, but not his BABIP, which tells you those two things aren’t that closely correlated. Also his walk rate has increased every single year and his HR/FB & IFFB rates have improved every year till this one,r.

        This is where statheads go wrong, is they lose context. Mark Reynolds has been constantly criticized in Arizona for his K rates. This year it got to the point where they pushed him to change his swing DURING THE SEASON. He’s been lost all year because of that, and that is reason his IFFB rate skyrocketed.

        The reason this is his 2nd best year by WAR is only because of his improving defense. Again, he was a 2nd baseman they converted when they called him up. After a couple years of getting used to the position they started jerking him back and forth to first base last year, which seemed to stall his development. This year he was allowed to settle in at third, and surprise, he’s nearly league average with the glove.

        If Mark is allowed to stick to his previous approach at the plate, and gets back into the groove, his BABIP will likely go back to the .320 range. He’ll be a plus bat at 3rd, and a decent glove, and he’ll be worth about 4 WAR.

        It would be horribly dumb to sell low on MR right now. Plus Towers is on a short term contract, he has to have the 2012 team on the cusp of winning or he’s done. He isn’t going to be building for the long term, he has no need for prospects other than as trading chips, and it’s hard to imagine he can find more current day value out there in trade than MR offers right now.

        I mean his worst offensive year ever and he’s still a slightly above average player.

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      • Randy says:

        “even in an era where high-power, strikeout-heavy hitters are romanticized more than ever before.”

        This is where the author loses context. League wide, K rates are almost double what they were in the 50s, and 50% higher than in the 70s. Strike-outs are a cost of hitting now for every hitter, the game has changed. Dave Kingman struck out at a higher rate in proportion to league averages than Mark Reynolds does, but since strikeout records are in absolute, not percentage, MR is treated as an outlier.

        And again you miss his substantial improvement in walk rates, when his BABIP returns to normal his OBP will likely be over .350.

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      • Randy says:

        Oh, and besides the fact that he’s only owed $13M for the next 2 years with his buyout, Mark is far from a one trick pony. He’s 10th in the majors in walk percentage, 16th in ISO, 9th in HR/FB rate, and 140th out of 149 qualifers in BABIP. And a decent third baseman, which makes him a fairly well-rounded player. He’ll likely never hit for average or cut his K rate much, but he is likely to produce more well above average seasons in value.

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      • Mark says:

        @Kirsh — You’re right, they will see a guy who hit 44 HR in ’09, but they’ll also see a guy who hit .200 in ’10. No one will ever give up a blue-chip prospect for a guy who’s a year removed from hitting at the Mendoza line. He’s never had an OBP of .350, and despite the home runs, he’s only had a SLG of .500 once. He’s a poor man’s Adam Dunn, and even Dunn can’t bring back a top prospect.

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  6. TribeFanV says:

    I couldn’t agree more that any trade reflects the type of player he is. If he plays a full healthy season next year, I can’t think of a wOBA that would surprise me (between .300 and .380).

    On one hand, his strikeouts are up. The sky might be the limit in that department…he’s leaps and bounds ahead of any other full-time player in history in terms of K%. Then there’s the fewer line drives, more pop-ups…yikes.

    On the other hand, his walks are up and his defensive performance has improved this year. But who knows which way it’ll go after two full seasons of a -11 UZR? And there is the whole power thing.

    Has he hit rock-bottom and ready to rebound? Or is he washed up at 27? I love this guy!

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  7. padres8222 says:

    To the Padres 4 Headley & Poreda

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  8. Mark Reynolds makes an “easy out” (K or popout) a staggering 57.1% of the time. Next highest is Carlos Pena at 42.8%

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  9. shibum78 says:

    Reynolds DOES NOT have a 3 year/$20+mil deal. He’s owed $5mil for 2011 and $7.5mil for 2012 and a club option for $11mil for 2013 with a $500K buyout. I don’t think $13mil is too much to pay for 2 years for a guy that should improve due to his low BABIP. I know people bring up that he’s down on LD% and up on IFBB%, but so was Chris Young. It’s not like Reynolds is in his early 30’s with a surefire decline in skills. He’s going to be playing his age 27 year next year. Also, people like to bring up his defense, but his defensive play has improved every year he’s been in the bigs (-11.3, -7.4, -1.2).

    I know Towers wants to decrease the team strike outs. Here’s my suggestion. Trade Kelly Johnson considering his value is high. Do not pick up Adam LaRoche’s option and move Brandon Allen to 1st base full-time. Keep Reynolds considering his value is at the low end. Pursue a guy like Maicer Izturis to play 2nd full-time and David DeJesus to play LF. This would improve their overall defense and cut at least 150K’s from the lineup.

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  10. boomer says:

    Reynolds to ATL for some of their non-elite minor league arms.

    Most patient team in the majors can afford one free swinger and needs the pop. Especially with Chipper’s return no sure thing.

    D’backs get a handful of young pitchers who, in any other organization, would be far more visible and hyped.

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  11. MorneauVP says:

    Wonder if the Tigers could be a fit too. They’ve got so much money coming off the books and are in need of some power in the lineup not named Miguel Cabrera. I would imagine Andy Oliver + mediocrity would get Reynolds, and while I know Detroit fans are high on Oliver, they could stand to part with him too. Verlander, Scherzer, and Porcello are going to be there for years to come, Galarraga’s shown at times that he can be a serviceable backend starter, and you could always just sign a placeholder (Westbrook, Arroyo, Millwood) who’s capable of pitching at a league average level to pitch for a year or two until Turner is ready.

    Wonder if the Red Sox would look at him if they couldn’t get Beltre to stick around, too. It’d be fun to see Reynolds how far over the Monster he could crush one. I realize, of course, he doesn’t fit that team’s mold, but it’d still be entertaining to see anyhow.

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    • I’d like to see the Tigers pursue Beltre, but if they fail on that end, I’m all for getting Reynolds. Compared to the prospect of re-signing 34 yr. old Brandon Inge or bringing back Jhonny Peralta at any age, Reynolds would be the more attractive option. Reynolds is affordable at our payroll, he’s young enough to not be old but old enough to be a vet (important because teams like to have a mix of younger and older players…..aside from the Mets, the only time veteran teams are allowed to stay together are if they continually win, like the Phillies), and barring a total collapse in skills would be roughly equal to what we already have while holding the potential to be much better.

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      • Andrew says:

        Hi Larry,

        From a Tigers perspective, what do you think would be a fair trade for him? I’m pretty sure the Dbacks are wanting young arms back. Someone else suggested Andy Oliver, but don’t know too much about him besides his good K numbers in the minors.

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    • Josh Amaral says:

      I think the Red Sox thought is very fitting.

      You said he doesn’t really fit their organizational philosophy, and he doesn’t, OBP-wise. However, the Sox organization has never been opposed to strikeouts.

      I think the reality is is that Ortiz will be back at DH and Youkilis will be back at first. If Beltre doesn’t return, they’ll need a third-baseman. Reynolds’ power would make him attractive.

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  12. Jaik Jarrkjens says:

    Reynolds might be a good fit for the Braves. He could play first base next year, and if he proves to be valuable, he could slide over to third for 2012, since Chipper will probably retire. The Braves are so power starved, and so deep in pitching depth, that it might be worth it to trade away a few marginal arms.

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  13. blackout says:

    I think I believe in the 2009 Reynolds more than the 2010 version — the season was marred by a lingering quad injury and Randy is spot on with the swing tinkering comments — and I think Towers would be selling low. That said, the TOR, ATL and DET suggestions as trade partners all make sense.

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  14. Dave G says:

    Couldn’t Reynolds provide a little more value if he was a 2b? He seems athletic enough to make the switch. A 2b that can hit 30 HRs is a lot more attractive than a 3b who does it. He’d be like another Uggla.

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  15. SRG says:

    To OAK for Kouzmanoff +…believe this has been discussed.

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  16. TheMythicalOne says:

    I would very much like to have Mark Reynolds in Baltimore considering we have absolutely nothing ready to go at the position right now. The FA market is slim pickings, and Reynolds gives us a lot of things we could use. He bats right handed, which is great considering most of our power comes from the left side. He brings a ton of power, something we also don’t have. He plays 3B at least at a reasonable level (noticed he’s getting better every season). He drives in a good deal of runs (the Orioles were 26th in the game in 2010, staggering for an AL team to be so poor). And he has a pretty decent OBP for a guy that doesn’t carry a high average, something else the Orioles are terrible with.

    We have a lot of young arms that could be potential starters or bullpen help. One name that seems to be getting run is David Hernandez. He has a 95-97MPH fastball and not a whole lot else going on. He was a starter for us and in the minors, but that didn’t pan out too well. He is now projected as a back of the bullpen power arm. There is Jason Berken who like Hernandez was a starter for his career until this season when he moved to the bullpen and did a terrific job. We have Rick VandenHurk, and Brad Bergesen who has one of the best sinkers I have seen when it is on. Problem is, it isn’t always on and he tried to get by on his off speed stuff. Then later on in the season he uncorked a four seam fastball that clocked in at 94-96MPH and surprised everyone.

    The problem is, the Orioles don’t have a whole lot in the way of contact hitting prospects in the minors, so if that is something of a need in a trade with Arizona, we don’t have much to offer. We’ve got a lot of young arms though. Just wondering what would realistically get the discussions going. I’ve asked around and supposedly David Hernandez should at least get the talks going.

    Thoughts?

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