The Orioles have decided to non-tender Mark Reynolds, making the 29-year-old first baseman an unrestricted free agent.
Reynolds had his $11 million option declined earlier this offseason, and while it was widely thought initially in the offseason that Baltimore would try to bring him back on a two-year agreement, the possibility of a multiyear deal — or any serious talks regarding bringing Reynolds back – never got off the ground.
With a thin free-agent class of first basemen, Reynolds –who would have made around $9 million in arbitration — was willing to return to the Orioles, but not at a significantly reduced salary. He made $7.5 million last season, recovering from a poor first half to post a .221/.335/.429 line, with 23 homers and 69 RBIs in 135 games.
Sixteen of Reynolds’ homers came in the final two months of the season, as the power hitter worked through the most prolonged slump of his career. Through his first 85 games, Reynolds hit .211 with eight homers and 33 RBIs, striking out 104 times over that stretch. He did continue to draw walks, leading the team for the second season with 73 free passes, and Reynolds helped the Orioles’ reach their first postseason in fifteen years with 15 homers and a .517 slugging percentage his final 50 games.
Well-liked and respected in the clubhouse, Reynolds played through numerous injuries during the regular season and the playoffs. He was hit by a pitch six times during the season and twice during six postseason games, making his health a question with everyone but Reynolds, who deflected any notion that he might need to miss time.
The Orioles also agreed to terms for 2013 contracts with Alexi Casilla, Steve Pearce and Taylor Teagarden, avoiding arbitration with the trio.
Reynolds was acquired December 6, 2010 from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for right-handed pitchers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio and, at the time, was seen as the organization’s solution for its third-base vacancy. And while he led the 2011 team in home runs (37), RBI (86), runs (84), walks (75), and OPS (.806), Reynolds also had a League-leading 196 strikeouts and committed 31 errors in the field, the third-most miscues in a single season in Orioles history.
After starting the season at third base, Reynolds –who committed six errors in 40 chances – was moved across the diamond and he worked hard to turn himself into an above-average first baseman. Frequently taking some good-natured ribbing for his tendency to never stay on his feet, Reynolds became adept at picking balls in the dirt and making excellent scoops, resulting in a .995 fielding percentage in 108 games at first base.
Reynolds posted a .221/.328/.458 line in 290 career games with the Orioles and while it’s unlikely he will resign with Baltimore as a free agent it’s not impossible. Still, with an offseason home in Arizona, Reynolds could sign with a club that allows him to live home during Spring Training and/or perhaps make a return to the National League.