There were a number of rumors that Kevin Youkilis would choose between the Indians and the Yankees at some point this weekend. Before any Youkilis decision became public, the Indians announced that they were signing Mark Reynolds to a 1 year/$6 million deal that could be worth as much as $7.5 million with incentives. Even though Reynolds strikes out A TON, he’s a right-handed power bat on a very reasonable contract, especially when you consider that the Indians paid Grady Sizemore $5 million last year. While there is speculation that this ends any chance of Youkilis coming to Cleveland, Buster Olney said that it’s not impossible, just much less likely.
About a week ago, I discussed Reynolds in my post about players non-tendered by other teams. (Reynolds was non-tendered by the Orioles.) In 2012, he hit .221/.335/.429 with 23 home runs with Baltimore, and his career averages with the Orioles and Diamondbacks are .235/.332/.475. The only time he failed to hit at least 20 home runs in a season was his first in the majors – 2007. To put that in perspective, Carlos Santana led the Indians in homers last season with 18. Even though Reynolds does swing and miss a lot, he still has a reasonable on base percentage and good slugging totals; his OPS is pretty respectable most seasons.
Even though Kevin Youkilis typically has much higher OBP figures than Reynolds, he has had some problems with injuries over the past couple of years and is four years older. Some of the rumors that were floating around with a potential Youkilis deal claimed that the Indians likely offered him more than 2 years/$18 million. The Reynolds deal, comparatively, is a pretty good bargain and still gives the Tribe some room to maneuver from a financial perspective. They could always flip Reynolds at the trade deadline for prospects, or even if he’s a huge bust, it’s only a one-year deal. I wasn’t crazy about Casey Kotchman, but he’s gone now; it’s not like they were saddled with him for several years.
I typically am personally not a huge fan of players in the Reynolds mold (low average, lots of strikeouts, lots of power), since I typically prefer players like a Kenny Lofton or an Omar Vizquel. (Less power, but more aspects to their game). Still, I’m reasonably pleased with this deal. It’s not perfect, but none of the Indians’ options usually are perfect. They lacked a right-handed power bat last year, and this fills that hole. It’s a low-cost, one year deal; not some three or four year contract north of $10 million per season. And let’s look at the bright side – even if Reynolds runs up his strikeout totals this year, his swings and misses could at least provide a cool breeze on a hot summer’s day!