Now that the Orioles have declined the $11 million option for next year on Mark Reynolds, the club has two options to try to keep the 29-year-old first baseman.
Since Reynolds has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining, the Orioles could tender a contract to Reynolds and hope to sign him for less through the arbitration process.
Reynolds made $7.5 million last season, and it's very rare to see players take a pay cut going through arbitration. So even though Reynolds had a down year offensively, he would still figure to make in the $9 million range through the arbitration process. Add in the $500,000 the Orioles already paid Reynolds to buyout his option, and it's just a $1.5 million difference from the amount the Orioles declined on Wednesday.
Keep in mind that the Orioles have fared extremely well in arbitration. Only one player, right-hander Brad Bergesen this past offseason, has gone to an arbitration hearing since 2006, and the Orioles have won seven straight arbitration cases led by team general counsel H. Russell Smouse.
The other option to keep Reynolds is to non-tender him, allow him to become a free agent and attempt to re-sign him. Reynolds said Wednesday he'd have to test the waters if he was non-tendered, and even though I believe Reynolds is true in saying he likes playing in Baltimore, allowing him to become a free agent is a risk.
The first baseman free-agent crop isn't great. Carlos Lee is 36. Carlos Pena is 34. Both are coming off horrid seasons. James Loney's stock has fallen dramatically.
Adam LaRoche, coming off a Gold Glove season in which he hit a career-high 33 homers, will be the cream of the first-base crop if he doesn't re-sign with the Nationals. Nick Swisher can play first, but he figures to get a multiyear deal and he might not be a fit for the Orioles' clubhouse.
So Reynolds might be one of the best available first basemen in the free-agent market, especially now that he's established himself defensively at the position. While there aren't too many teams looking for first basemen, the Orioles might be forced to offer a multi-year deal to retain Reynolds if they allow him to go on the market.
Not long ago, Orioles fans couldn't wait to let Reynolds walk. But he won over many fans with his defense, toughness and once his bat started to pick up. From the looks of reactions on Twitter on Wednesday, Orioles fans want Reynolds to stay.
But what would you do?Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun