Monday, December 6, 2010
Updated: December 7, 11:16 AM ET
Orioles trade for slugger Mark Reynolds
ESPN.com news services
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Mark Reynolds is taking his big swings to Baltimore.
The Orioles acquired the strikeout-prone slugger from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday for right-handed relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio in a trade between last-place teams trying to upgrade in different ways.
"We needed to improve our offense," Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said. "We think Mark Reynolds very much represents that."
There is no doubt that Reynolds can hit the ball a long way -- when he hits it, that is.
Reynolds has averaged nearly 35 homers for the last three years. He's also struck out over 200 times in each of those seasons -- those are the three highest strikeout totals in major league history.
"He brings some things we don't have," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You can find negatives on any player. We certainly like his contact-to-damage ratio. We're going to dwell on all the positive things he does."
The Diamondbacks moved quickly to fill the hole at third base the 27-year-old Reynolds left, agreeing to a $2 million, one-year contract with free agent Melvin Mora. The 38-year-old Mora hit .285 with seven homers and 45 RBIs for Colorado last season. He'll probably platoon with Geoff Blum at third base.
"Happy to have him," Arizona general manager Kevin Towers said.
Towers came to the baseball winter meetings looking for relievers and was willing to swap a power bat for a power arm or two.
"Over the last couple of years, the organizations that are getting into postseason play are doing it with pitching," Towers said.
"Tampa got better once their pitching got in line. Texas got better once they got their pitching in line. Cincinnati, the same thing. We've seen the success that San Francisco had. I think people are willing to trade offense for pitching. It's how you build championship teams."
The 25-year-old Hernandez went 8-8 with a 4.31 ERA last season for the Orioles in 41 games, including eight starts.
The 26-year-old Mickolio was 0-3 with a 4.32 ERA in parts of three seasons with the Orioles. He excelled at Triple-A this year, striking out 48 in 35 1/3 innings.
Towers said he envisioned Hernandez and Mickolio working in the late innings.
"It's the start of rebuilding this bullpen," Towers said. "We're still out looking for more relief help."
Arizona managed to add one more reliever, agreeing to a two-year deal with free agent reliever J.J. Putz, according to multiple reports.
The focus of the day, however, was on the departure of the free-swinging third baseman.
Reynolds' value often depends on who's evaluating him. He hit .198 with 32 homers and 85 RBIs last season, coming off a year in which he set career highs with 44 home runs and 102 RBIs.
"It was borderline embarrassing," Reynolds said of his 2010 season while on a conference call Monday night. "As far as my average goes, I know I am a much better hitter than that. I think I pushed myself a little too hard. I am pretty stubborn when it comes to injuries and things like that."
"I think I have learned a lot in that area as far as how to listen to my body and know when I need to maybe take some time off. Looking back, I wish I had done that, but it's past and you move forward, and I think I'll have a lot better chance for success knowing what I went through this past year."
Reynolds has homered every 16.4 at-bats in the big leagues. Plus, his walk total has increased all four years he's been in the majors.
But oh, those strikeouts.
Reynolds set the major league record when he fanned 204 times in 2008, then struck out 223 times the next year. He fanned 211 times last season.
"That's the tradeoff sometimes," MacPhail said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.