In a move that was widely expected, the Baltimore Orioles have officially non-tendered infielder Mark Reynolds, allowing him to become a free agent. The Orioles traded pitcher David Hernandez for Reynolds two years ago in hopes of shoring up the hot corner. Reynolds was sketchy at third (especially in 2012), but when moved across the diamond he proved to be a very solid first baseman. The Orioles traded for him mainly for his bat however, and that proved to be somewhat flawed as well. Reynolds struck me as a more extreme version of Luke Scott, who was extremely streaky. When I say a more extreme version, I mean that the lows were much deeper, but the highs were much higher as well. Reynolds struck out a lot, but if he did get a hold of one…watch out!
This doesn’t definitively mean that Reynolds is gone for good, although common sense would dictate that it does. Being a free agent, the Orioles could still sign him just like any other team. As I said earlier in the off season, I was hoping that the Orioles would find a way to keep Reynolds for the sole reason that he cares deeply about winning. When I say that the highs were pretty high, remember back in September when for a two-week period or so it appeared that he was hitting everything he saw over the wall? Furthermore, Reynolds was hit, spiked, and bruised so many times during the 2012 season, and yet he was still in the lineup everyday. At one point Buck Showalter referred to him by saying, “…this is a tough, tough man.” Yes his strikeouts could be untimely in some instances, however I hope that Orioles fans will remember Mark Reynolds as a guy that gave everything he could for his team to win. Sure he had that deer-in-the-headlights look on occasion, but he cared very deeply. I hope that Orioles fans wish him well.
The O’s also non-tendered second baseman Omar Quintanilla and pitcher Stu Pomeranz yesterday, and they offered contracts to Chris Davis, Jason Hammel, Tommy Hunter, Jim Johnson, Brian Matusz, Darren O’Day, Troy Patton, Nolan Reimold, and Matt Wieters. For those who don’t know or are confused about this process, all of the above-mentioned individuals (excluding Quintanilla, Pomeranz, and Reynolds…who are now free agents) are still under team control for 2013, and will be members of the Orioles’ organization in some capacity. However they’re eligible for arbitration, which means that if they feel the Orioles are low-balling them in their contract offer they can go to arbitration and negotiate. Generally the two sides come to a mutual agreement before it gets to that point, because arbitration can be a painful process in some cases.
We all remember last year when pitcher Brad Bergesen went to arbitration with the Orioles, and he lost big time. Bergesen ended up getting an $800,000 contract, however he had really done nothing to warrant more than what the Orioles were offering him. The O’s were about to go to arbitration with Adam Jones, however they came to an agreement the night before the scheduled meeting. (And of course Jones would go on to sign a huge contract extension during the regular season.) Many people felt that they low-balled catcher Matt Wieters last season by giving him a $500,000 contract; Wieters is now eligible for arbitration, and it stands to reason that he’ll get a lot more than that going into 2013.
The issue with arbitration is that the player and his agent are in effect trying to argue that he should get more than what the team is offering, and the team is on the other side arguing why the guy isn’t good enough to get that number. It’s kind of a ridiculous process if you think about it. However as Hyman Roth said in Godfather II, “…this is the business that we have chosen!” In closing, I wanted to mention that today (December 1st) is my one-year anniversary as the Senior Editor and lead columnist here on Birds Watcher. Neverminding the outcome of the 2012 season for just one moment, it’s been a great ride thus far. I want to thank all of the readers, commenters, and fans of this column from the bottom of my heart for making this past year a great experience for me. The same goes for all of the contributing staff writers (past and current), as they’ve made my job very easy. It’s also worth mentioning that the Orioles themselves made my job very easy this past calendar year, as nothing beats the first playoff run in 15 years! Thanks again to all, and I’m looking forward to keeping it going into the future.