The Mark Reynolds Trade: Arizona’s End

In his tenure with the San Diego Padres, Kevin Towers developed a reputation as a bullpen expert. His expertise in this area made him a prime candidate for Arizona, who had the worst bullpen in the league last season. In his introductory press conference with the Diamondbacks, Towers expressed his beliefs when it comes to assembling relief pitching.

My goal here is put together a bullpen that’s better than San Diego’s. To me, it’s several weapons. A bullpen’s not just the closer. To me, you should have five to six guys that can pitch in the seventh, eight, or ninth inning against the middle-of-the-order hitter and be able to get a strikeout.

Towers began the rebuilding process on Monday, acquiring David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio from the Orioles for Mark Reynolds. While Hernandez and Mikolio aren’t exactly household names, they could end up playing key roles in Towers’ next dominant pen.

In Hernandez and Mickolio, Towers acquires two young, cost-controlled pitchers capable of posting big strikeout numbers. While some analysts were worried about Hernandez’s ability to strikeout batters at the major league level, he quelled those concerns last season, raising his K/9 by two full strikeouts. Although Mickolio doesn’t have much major league experience, he has shown the ability to strikeout a batter per innings during his brief stints in the majors.

Hernandez and Mickolio come with similar flaws; neither pitcher is particularly skilled when it comes to limiting walks. On top of that, both pitchers allow an absurd amount of fly balls. Although they are moving out of Camden Yards, it’s not as if Chase Field will do them many favors. Towers realizes that the ability to accumulate strikeouts late in games is a valuable commodity, however, and realizes that the upside of these pitchers is well worth the risk.

The fact that Hernandez and Mickolio get to leave the AL East cannot be understated. Instead of facing the middle of the order lineups in the AL East (Alex RodriguezMark Teixeira, Kevin YoukilisDavid Ortiz, Adam LindJose Bautista, etc.), the former O’s will have a lot less to worry about in the NL West.

In a separate post, Matt Klaassen examined the Orioles perspective of this trade. In the article, he explains that only the best relief pitchers will match the value of Mark Reynolds going forward. If this is the case, why would Towers pull the trigger on this deal? First off, Towers has no allegiance to Reynolds. It was Josh Byrnes, not Towers, that gave Reynolds a contract extension after a strong 2009. While Reynolds may have been a good fit for the Diamondbacks under Byrnes, Towers is taking the team in a different direction. Secondly, trading Reynolds allows Towers to free up extra money to make addition moves this off-season (like this one).

Reynolds is also the type of player that can frustrate managers as often as he can dazzle them. Due to a low contact rate, Reynolds holds the record for most strikeouts in a season. As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, Reynolds also holds the second and third spot on the single season strikeout list. Despite the strikeouts, Reynolds has been a valuable asset for the Diamondbacks over the past four seasons. The strikeouts and contact issues (combined with some bad luck on balls in play) led to a slash line of .198/.320/.433 last season, making Reynolds an expendable commodity to Towers.

Regardless of whether Reynolds outproduces Hernandez and Mickolio over the next few seasons, it’s clear that Kevin Towers has a plan for the Diamondbacks. As Towers stated in his introductory press conference, assembling the Diamondbacks bullpen was a major priority this off-season. If Towers’ reputation is warranted, Hernandez and Mickolio could have a much larger impact than anyone expects with the Diamondbacks.

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Chris is a blogger for He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

15 Responses to “The Mark Reynolds Trade: Arizona’s End”

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  1. Chris says:

    It is a trade the Orioles had to make, but both Hernandez and Mickolio have legitimate potential.

    Once moved to the bullpen last year, Hernandez was just filthy. In ’11 he can be a weapon to a pen, with his ability to pitch multiple innings. Closers may be overrated, but he has that type of stuff.

    Mickolio can be intimidating on the mound with his 6’9 presence. When he gets his power sinker going, he can eat up bats.

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  2. Fred says:

    The sidebar says “by Cwik Cwik” so I came here enthralled at the prospect of such a ridiculous name, only to be sorely disappointed.

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  3. Paqs says:

    Where’s the analysis? There’s not a single number in this post.

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  4. says:

    Hernandez, a power lefty, is just what the Dbacks need coming out of the ‘pen. At first I was shocked when I heard Reynolds was leaving, but now I am kind of relieved. Next year will not be amazing for the Diamondbacks, but it won’t be a total loss either. It was embarrassing watching the bullpen blow every game last year. Hopefully, this adds some legitimacy.

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    • scott says:

      Sorry to damper your optimism, but while hernandez does throw mid to high 90s, he’s a right-hander, not some variation of aroldis chapman

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  5. Ian says:

    “Hernandez, a power lefty, is just what the Dbacks need coming out of the ‘pen.”

    David Hernandez is right-handed.

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  6. Steve says:

    I have no idea what Kam Mickolio looks like, but I assume he wears the back of his jersey pulled up over his head, ala Beavis? I am the Great Mickolio!!

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    • Baltimore Joe says:

      Looks like it should sound that way (and he is a tall, gangly kinda funny-lookin dude) but it’s pronounced mick-uh-LIE-oh.

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  7. tonysoprano says:

    Hopefully this is one of those deals that can help both teams. Only time will tell. But Towers is certainly backing up what he said at his press conference. Like the assertiveness.

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  8. phoenix2042 says:

    the Os have tons of pitching. They have a lot of starters that are relieving because there simply is no more room for starters at ML, AAA or AA level. They needs a 1B or a 3B and so they dealt from pitching depth for an infielder with high upside. Kevin Towers gets to build his bullpen and the Os get a starting 3B.

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  9. CircleChange11 says:

    I live in the town Clay Zavada is from. He graduated HS the year before I started coaching pitchers (lucky for him). Translation: I follow the DBacks Bullpen quite a bit (like daily).

    They basically traded/released everyone 2 years ago and then wondered why they sucked last year. Tony Pena, Schlereth, Qualls, Slaten, Schoenweiss (family death), Rauch, etc. Zavada was effective in 09, TJ surgery in 10.

    Part of the situation was that the SP’s did not go enough innings and just drained the bullpen.

    But, at this point, isn’t Arizona having a great bullpen kinda like the dude that tries to corner to “kicker market” in fantasy football?

    They traded the two SP’s that actually could rack up 200 IP, so whatever quality they get from the bullpen is going to drained out of them with overuse … and in non-winning games.

    I think some teams have made some decent moves in an isolated sense, but the timing of the moves doesn’t make sense. In other words, decent moves as a “final piece” of being competitive, but the teams that are making them need much more than a “final piece”.

    The one thing you know about being in the DBacks Pen … you are going to get to pitch, and likely get 3rd, 4th, and 5th chances to succeed.

    There’s only so much value in having the “6th man” in the league.

    Okay, enough analogies outta me.

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    • kokushishin says:

      It would have been a stretch to keep the bullpen from ’07-’08 intact.

      Valverde got expensive, and no trade means no Qualls.

      No Pena trade means no Brandon Allen. Schlereth was part of what brought Ian Kennedy and from the EJ trade Daniel Hudson.

      Juan Cruz was less effective in KC and was shut down early last year.

      Keeping Slaten around probably means less shuffling around for a LHP, but again, is that really the straw that broke the camel’s back?

      Rauch for whatever reason struggled in AZ.

      Hernandez is intriguing but I’m not sure about giving up a guy who put up 2.4 WAR despite multiple injuries (including a concussion). Especially since some combination of Mora, Blum etc. probably is not going to be close and isn’t that much cheaper.

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  10. SeanP says:

    “While some analysts were worried about Hernandez’s ability to strikeout batters at the major league level, he quelled those concerns last season, raising his K/9 by two full strikeouts.”

    When he transitioned from starting in 2009 to being a full-time reliever in 2010, Hernandez’s K/9 rate rose by over 5. In the rotation in 2009, he was K’ing 5.84 per 9, but that rose to 10.95 per 9 as a reliever in 2010.

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  11. Sean says:

    Hernandez is filthy out of the pen.

    Career (as a reliever):
    2.95 era
    1.26 whip
    11.1 k/9

    I for one, doubt Putz’s ability to stay healthy. Hernandez is a future closer in my opinion.

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