With all of this hubbub about Mark Reynolds' possible/probable-yet-uncertain departure as the first major move of the Kevin Towers Era, I've decided to outline where Mark could be headed. After all, the very first handful of pieces I wrote on the 'Pit were outlines of the possible destinations for Chris Snyder, Jon Garland, and Doug Davis back around the trade deadline of the 2009 regular season. I've also decided to go this in a FanPost instead of a story as a way of keeping this as a pseudo-discussion thread for any Reynolds rumblings and rumors.
In this post, I'll go through every team in baseball to see first if Reynolds fits into their roster. If there is a possible match, I'll then look into what kind of package the other team could offer back to Arizona. I'll attempt to particularly look for "contact hitters and relief pitchers," which we are rumored to be looking for, though I don't imagine I'll be super successful. As a side note, I'm not going to include possibilities where Reynolds would have to move to first, since there is such a glut of free agent first basemen and Reynolds would be too costly to put at first.
(All WAR numbers from FanGraphs)
Reynolds could supplant incumbent Chase Headley at third base, but Headley's FG WAR last year was superb (4.6) despite a miserable wOBA (.314). Much of his value is tied up in his defense, as he posted a 16.5 UZR in '10. Depending on what you think of one-year samples of defensive metrics (Headley played in the outfield in previous seasons while Kevin Kouzmanoff manned third base), he's either fantastic or a huge candidate to regress mightily. However, it's hard to imagine them spending significant money on a power hitter in a power-sapping ballpark.
Still, Reynolds' home runs are often true bombs, and he's one of the few players who could still be a 30-HR threat at Petco Park. The one scenario in which I could understand Reynolds becoming an attractive option for the Padres is if they were to trade Adrian Gonzalez, since the Friars likely will want at least one source of power in their lineup and Reynolds is cost-controlled. Reynolds could man third base if Headley is moved, either in the trade or elsewhere, or possibly first base in place of Gonzalez, if they aren't convinced that Reynolds' defensive improvements are legitimate.
Further, the Pads, surprise surprise, have some pieces that we could be looking for. Headley would be a solid, cheap replacement at the hot corner for Mark, but his bat is miserable and he's not a good contact or on-base threat. Scott Hairston was flat-out miserable for S.D. in 2010, but I'm guessing his BABIP isn't going to stay at .236, so he's a strong rebound candidate who could fill the left-field void for us. It would only take BABIP regression and a slight uptick in his ISO to get him back to being the 2-WAR outfielder he has been. Hairston is arbitration-eligible one more time after making $2.45MM last year in his second year of arbitration.
Then, of course, they have relievers coming out of their ears. As strange as it may sound, we're not going to go anywhere near Heath Bell unless the Padres pitch in some money. Bell is going to make upwards of $8MM in his final arbitration year and we don't have that kind of money lying around for a relief pitcher who is about to leave Petco Park. However, the likes of Mike Adams, Luke Gregerson, Ryan Webb, Ernesto Frieri, and Edward Mujica will all come into play.
Adams and Gregorson likely being too valuable for the Pads to give up, and Webb too middling for the D-backs to want in a Reynolds package. Frieri couldn't get a ground-ball to save his life in his short time in the majors last year, but hasn't accumulated even a full year of service team, meaning we would control him for six years. Mujica, on the other hand, offers a more acceptable ground-ball rate and the lure of a stunning 2.82 xFIP (i.e. his HR/FB rate isn't likely to stay at 17%, even at Chase), though 2011 will be his first year of arbitration, but at what is bound to be an extremely low price.
Nonetheless, packaging an outfielder who had a worse 2010 than our own Gerardo Parra in his last arb year and a reliever who already has hit arbitration is nowhere near enough to consider trading Reynolds. I imagine that the D-backs will want a prospect to finish this package off, and a pretty solid prospect at that. The Pads' system is a bit of a mess, and not being able to sign Karsten Whitson really gutted the top-end of it once you get past Simon Castro and Donovan Tate (who we obviously aren't getting).
As far as names we could acquire go, a few of the more intriguing names from a year ago fell off of a cliff in 2010. LHP Aaron Poreda, 3B Logan Forsythe, and 3B James Darnell all had pretty miserable years, so they're no longer possibilities. Someone to take a look at could be SS Drew Cumberland, who raked in Cal League (but who doesn't?), but didn't do anything noteworthy in a cup of coffee at Double-A. However, considering our lack of up-the-middle prospects in the upper-minors, Cumberland would be a nice piece to add.
Woo, that one was a doozy... but a beneficial deal is possible. It just requires, in my opinion, a Gonzalez trade first.
Possible Deal: Scott Hairston, Edward Mujica, and Drew Cumberland for Mark Reynolds.
The Rockies' current incumbent third basemen is Ian Stewart, who has provided fairly consistent 1-1.5 WAR production for the last three seasons. While was nice when he was making minimum salary, he's already a possible non-tender candidate entering his first of four arbitration years as a Super Two. His 54 career home runs will undoubtedly jack up his price tag, so if the non-tender doesn't come now, it certainly will in a couple years' time.
Also, although Stewart is young, his wOBA has gone from .347 in his first exposure to the majors to a steady .337 in each of the last two years, so there might not be a huge amount of upside, if any at all, left. This, of course, means that the Rockies could stand to benefit from a Reynolds acquisition, making Stewart a likely piece to head back to Arizona as a throw-in. If the D-backs subsequently find someone of better value, they could non-tender him, and if the market produces no better alternatives, they could keep him on a year-to-year basis.
The bigger question is what possible big-league talent we could get in return. As far as bullpen arms go, both Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle were revelations in the Rockies' 'pen last year, but both have just one year of control remaining, Betancourt scheduled to make $3.75MM in '11 and Belisle entering his last arbitration year. Huston Street is decent, but he's remarkably overpaid. Manny Corpas and Franklin Morales just never worked out.
As far as hitters go, there are a couple of fits, but they're solely outfielders - outside of Troy Tulowitzki, their infield is entirely devoid of talent. SnakePit-favorite RYAN SPILBORGHS was below replacement-level last year, so he's not a candidate, but I just wanted to mention him. The two intriguing possibilities are Seth Smith and Dexter Fowler, who offer very different skill sets.
Fowler, who will be just 24 years old on Opening Day 2011, would be making a position change from center field, where he has varied from slightly to greatly below-average. His addition would give us the best group of outfield defenders in baseball. At the plate, Fowler combines speed an on-base skills (career .351 OBP), which would make him an ideal lead-off hitter, and he doesn't hit arbitration until 2012.
The power-laden Smith also doesn't hit arbitration until 2012, though he is much older than Fowler, as he'll be 28 years old on Opening Day 2011. For a hitter with as much power as Smith has (career .215 ISO), he is surprisingly adept at making contact, with just an 18.7% K-Rate last year for the Rockies. He slumped with the bat, but it was likely due to his BABIP, and positive regression could once again make him something similar to the 2.9-WAR player he was in 2009.
Either Fowler or Smith would be a fantastic haul for Reynolds, but the problem is that there is no way the Rockies consider either of those moves, as it addresses none of their actual needs, which are scattered throughout the infield. They're going to need someone to take over for Todd Helton at some point, and given how horrible Helton was a year ago, I'm going to assume that they need it now.
That's why it might be a good idea to try to sweeten the deal with Brandon Allen, who is cheap and cost-controlled like Fowler and Smith, and could fill that void starting in 2011. It's probably still a light package headed to Colorado, particularly if Fowler is the one headed to Arizona in the deal, so you could add a C+/B- prospect to the package to finish it off.
Possible Deal: Dexter Fowler/Seth Smith and Ian Stewart for Mark Reynolds, Brandon Allen, and a Grade-C+/B- prospect.
On the surface, the Dodgers are another possibility for Mark, since Casey Blake, he of "holy crap they traded Carlos Santana for him?!?!" fame, has seen his bat dramatically decline in the last year or so. However, Blake still managed a 2.8 WAR season in 2010, and is under contract through 2011 for $5.25MM, so he's still very likely to perform above the standards of his contract.
Further, considering that the Dodgers have so many other holes - catcher, second base, center field (moving Matt Kemp to left), and a possible upgrade at first base - I find it hard to believe that they're going to be seriously considering a trade to acquire a third baseman with Blake still on the roster. This means that the only real possibility here is if we take Blake back in the deal, despite him also being very strikeout-prone. That's only going to happen unless we also get a very good, and very cheap, additional piece to compensate for the difference in Reynolds' and Blake's value.
The Dodgers have no outfielders to spare, and although James Loney is a contact hitter, he also sucks, so I'm going to pretend that there's no way we'll ever consider acquiring him unless it's as a way to sweeten the deal for L.A.. Hong-Chih Kuo isn't happening, and he's also a caveat emptor case with his extensive injury history. Jonathan Broxton would make Mark Grace very very happy, but he's expensive, fell apart in 2010, and is only under control for one more year.
Aside from those two guys, the only big-league-ready reliever the Dodgers have who has much value is Kenley Jansen, though he certainly is intriguing. Jansen will be just 23 years old on Opening Day, and as a former professional catcher, he has an unrefined arsenal that has limited his development to the 'pen. However, he has the type of raw stuff that screams back-of-the-bullpen, throwing mid-to-upper 90's and flashing a promising slider around 80 MPH, and Arizona has nobody like that close to the major leagues.
Perhaps most importantly, we'd have six years of control of Jansen were we to acquire him, effectively giving us the opportunity to have a situation similar to what our new GM had in San Diego - one closer year-in and year-out for a very long time. But, with Jansen now included, something tells me that the Dodgers are going to be left wanting more from this trade.
Unfortunately, there's no way that the D-backs are going to fill the Dodgers' holes at second base, center field, or catcher, which are the three spots where the need is greatest. The only hole the Dodgers have that the D-backs could possibly fill is first base, but it's questionable how much of an upgrade Brandon Allen is over Loney. If you ask me, there's probably going to have to be a prospect sent L.A.'s way along with an added Loney/Allen swap. The Dodgers have had success in refining the tools of raw, athletic outfielders before, and appear to be doing so again with Trayvon Robinson, so I think that Keon Broxton, our toolsiest prospect, could be a nice fit.
Possible Deal: Casey Blake, James Loney, and Kenley Jansen for Mark Reynolds, Brandon Allen, and Keon Broxton.
Call me a pessimist, but this is my biggest fear. A trade with the Giants involving Pablo Sandoval, a "contact hitter" who was a vastly inferior player to Reynolds in 2010. Sure, Panda's BABIP could regress up, but his ISO fell a staggering 86 points from '09 to '10, and who knows where that will eventually settle? Really, it depends on whether or not he can get his weight under control, and I'm not sure he can.
If we can get Sandoval and, say, Sergio Romo to help the 'pen, I suppose I wouldn't complain too much. We'd have four years of control of both Sandoval and Romo, and Romo's rates suggest he could definitely be a closer candidate for the D-backs. But seeing Pablo celebrate his World Series like this scares me that he won't be able to handle third base for very long. A move to first base would absolutely destroy his value. If we're confident Sandoval can stick at third, it could be forgivable for KT to give up a C prospect as well.
Possible Deal: Pablo Sandoval and Sergio Romo for Mark Reynolds and a C-grade prospect.
Aramis Ramirez's albatross contract is firmly planted at third base. I suppose the Cubbies could move Ramirez over to first, but why would they trade a bunch of valuable players and prospects to the D-backs to get Reynolds when it's seen as a foregone conclusion that they're going to sign Adam Dunn, who will fill the first base opening? I don't see a match here.
Possible Deal: None.
Scott Rolen was a 5-WAR player last year and is (still... since 2003) under contract. No need.
Possible Deal: None.
Sure, Chris Johnson may have been a revelation near the end of the season, but he was a revelation with a 4% walk rate, .173 ISO, below-average defense, and .387 BABIP. It won't continue. So there's definitely a hole for Mark, who would be a pretty nice piece to slot fourth behind Michael Bourn, Jeff Keppinger, and Carlos Lee, who is due for some positive regression. That's a pair of guys with OBP's over .340 a year ago, one of whom has tremendous speed, and a solid power hitter whose value will be saved next year by a return to BABIP normalcy and an inevitable move to first base.
The problem is that the Astros don't have a ton to give back to the D-backs. We've already touched upon Johnson, and he's not going to be someone that Towers jumps on. A trade isn't going to be built strictly on relief arms, particularly the Astros' relief arms. Hunter Pence is probably the only guy around which a deal could be built, though the fit is mediocre at best, as the Astros have no reason to trade Pence and no replacement lined up if a deal were made. After all, Pence posted a better overall season than Reynolds in '10 despite Reynolds' far superior walk rate and ISO (which regressed for Pence), and they both have similar upsides.
Possible Deal: None.
The Crew have a 3.5 WAR third baseman who isn't set to hit arbitration until 2012 (when he's 29 - i.e. still in his prime). Yeah, Casey McGehee is a really good player. Trading for Reynolds gets them less surplus value. It's a shame, too, because it would be interesting to see if we could pry John Axford (closer) and Alcides Escobar (contact hitter and, despite his struggles, possible heir to the SS throne from Drew) from them with maybe an additional spare part.
Possible Deal: None.
Here's a team that could use Mark. David Freese is cheap and solid when he's on the field, but therein lies the rub. Freese is an injury magnet, and that could sadly limit him to a utility role in the big leagues. With the lack of third base options on the free agent market after Adrian Beltre, a Reynolds swap might be in the works. Just imagine the amount of power that lineup would have in it... downright scary, isn't it? Also, for what it's worth, Mark seems like the kind of player LaRussa would like enough in the clubhouse (grit/toughness) to deal the strikeouts on the field, though those K's would assuredly annoy him immensely.
Now, what should Arizona be looking to get back? Colby Rasmus rumors have flied around before, so perhaps Reynolds could be part of a package for him. I've suggested a Reynolds/Parra/Prospect package for Rasmus before, and still think it would work out nicely all-around if Rasmus were to be made available. Those waters seem to have calmed in St. Louis, though, so I'm going to assume that Rasmus is off the table.
If we have to piece together a package from the rest of the Cardinals' parts, we're left with slim pickings on the position player front. Ryan Ludwick would have been perfect if they hadn't shipped him off, but alas, he was sent off to go be mediocre in San Diego. We're now left to patch together a quilt of Freese and Jon Jay, the rookie outfielder who managed 1.1 WAR in 100 games on the strength of a .350 BABIP.
Jay was slightly below-average defensively, but small sample size concerns apply and he also played primarily in right and center field, so a move to left should allow him to be solid with the glove. The concerns about the bat still exist, though, and many think he simply isn't an everyday outfielder. He does make contact, but sadly there isn't much else there. An ISO of just .122 and walk rate of 7.4% aren't going to light the world on fire.
As far as relief arms with control are concerned, there are three options, Kyle McClellan, Mitchell Boggs, and Jason Motte. Unfortunately, none of them truly stick out. Motte has been worked up as a possible back-of-the-bullpen guy in the past, but in spite of his low 2010 ERA, he'd be a mediocre closer option going by his FIP (and particularly if you want to go by his xFIP). Boggs is controlled for five years and cheap, but he's also not extremely valuable. McClellan worked a lot of smoke-and-mirrors in keeping his ERA at 2.27 with a home run rate of over one per nine innings.
In the end, it's likely an underwhelming quantity-over-quality deal that Arizona should turn down. Not thrilling, but here it is:
Possible Deal: David Freese, Jason Motte, and 1 of Jon Jay, Kyle McClellan, and Mitchell Boggs for Mark Reynolds.
The Pirates are rumored to be interested in Adrian Beltre, so if (when) they miss on him, why not go after the next-best third baseman on the market, right? Well, here's a reason: you've already got Mark Reynolds, his name is Pedro Alvarez and he's got a ton of upside. There are concerns that Alvarez will eventually have to move to first base, but why damn him with that at 23 years old? I wouldn't even be putting in a call for Beltre if I were them... it just makes no sense.
That's just me, of course, and to be fair, they really really do need a first baseman after a year of awfulness from Garret Jones. So if Alvarez is going to have to wind up moving, the spot is wide open for him now. The Pirates also have a pair of outfielders that could be used in a Reynolds package, though there are significant concerns with both of them.
Lastings Milledge is just 25 years old, but he also has over 1,500 plate-appearances in the major leagues and is going to have to start putting his bat where his tools are, having never reached 1 WAR in a season. He's also headed to arbitration for the first time this year, and getting more expensive when you're flirting with replacement-level isn't a recipe for having value.
The other, more appealing option is Jose Tabata, in spite of his minimal power and low walk rate. He'll start 2011 at 22 years old, and makes a solid amount of contact. His BABIP, sadly, is likely to regress from his .339 mark from 2010, and since most of his offensive value is BABIP-related, that won't go well. Nonetheless, as a potential right-handed platoon option for Gerardo Parra, you could feasibly do worse than the raw Tabata.
Where things get interesting in Pittsburgh is looking into their spare bullpen pieces. Joel Hanrahan was fabulous for the Pirates last year, accumulating 1.4 WAR on the strength of his 69 2/3 innings of 2.62 FIP (2.77 xFIP) work. He's entering his first year of arbitration, but should be relatively inexpensive due to his lack of the beloved save (20 total in three years).
Next is Evan Meek, a 0.8 WAR pitcher who worked a staggering 80 innings in 2010 with a less-impressive FIP of 3.45. Meek is a year away from arbitration, but he also will be more expensive when he gets there as a former "All-Star"... Joe Martinez could also make sense as a swingman in place of Meek if we can't pry both Meek and Hanrahan from the Pirates, though I don't see why we couldn't.
In spite of how good Hanrahan was last year for the Pirates, depending on a reliever entering arbitration as the foundation of a trade isn't typically a good idea, but here it is:
Possible Deal: Jose Tabata, Joel Hanrahan, and Evan Meek/reliever-du-jour/back-end replacement-level-ish starter for Mark Reynolds.
Errrrrr, definitely no. David Wright firmly entrenched at third.
Possible Deal: None.
Ryan Zimmerman. Ain't happenin'.
Possible Deal: None.
Chipper Jones isn't getting any younger, and if he really wants to keep playing, a shift to first base might not be a bad idea considering he's been below league-average defensively at third over the last two years. Sure, that blocks Freddie Freeman from having an everyday gig for the time being, but Jones isn't going to be around forever and having a plan for the future at third base that isn't Omar Infante can't be a bad thing. Dealing for Mark would ensure that when Jones retires, the Braves won't be left devoid of a solid corner-infield battery.
Now, if we really want ourselves a contact hitter, Infante is an All-Star-caliber contact hitter (*groan*). In all seriousness, he's probably a lock to hit .300, even with BABIP regression, and should play above-average defense at third base if he plays there everyday. He just won't do anything else, so he's probably a 1-1.5-win player or so. It's not a sexy option, but he only has one year left on his contract (a club option, actually), so it's an option we wouldn't have to live with forever.
Where the Braves really stand out is that they have a pair of outstanding young relievers - Johnny Venters and Craig Kimbrel. The odds of us getting one aren't great, but we aren't doing a deal with Atlanta without one of them. There aren't many relief pitchers around worth making the cornerstone of a Reynolds trade, but these two certainly qualify. Venters was worked a lot last year, throwing 83 innings with a 2.69 ERA, while Kimbrel threw just 20 2/3 innings, but posted a 1.53 FIP and struck out nearly two batters per inning (17.42 K/9). They've even got a few unpredictable yet promising arms shuttling between the big-leagues and minors, like Michael Dunn and Christhian Martinez.
Possible Deal 1: Craig Kimbrel for Mark Reynolds.
Possible Deal 2: Johnny Venters and Christhian Martinez for Mark Reynolds.
Jayson Werth is leaving this off-season, so the Phillies are losing some pop in their lineup that Mark could help replace. Further, it would simply be sheer awesome K-itude to have Mark and Ryan Howard in the same line-up. However, the Phillies have Placido Polanco locked in at third base to an extremely team-friendly contract given his consistent 3-4 WAR production over the last three years. So, sad as it may be, they have no reason to make a deal to acquire a player they already have.
Possible Deal: None.
Florida needs a third baseman. They put Wes Helms and his -0.3 WAR on the field around the diamond for 121 games, while Jorge Cantu, who accumulated just 0.2 WAR for Florida, shuttled around the infield for parts of 97 games. Florida also tried out the likes of Chad Tracy, Brian Barden, Donny Murphy, and Hector Luna at third base throughout the year. Adding up their production from the hot corner, they wound up exactly at replacement level.
Their current plan is to play Chris Coghlan at third base, but he struggled with the bat last year and is no sure thing at third base defensively. Having Mark at third base, where his defensive value is more established, would provide some stability at the position. Further, if the Fish end up unable to reach a long-term deal with Dan Uggla, they may trade him, which would give them a need for right-handed power. Mark sure seems like a fantastic fit for the Marlins, particularly since he is already locked into a cheap long-term deal, which would be a benefit to the thrifty Marlins.
So what could we look to get back from Florida? An interesting trade candidate is their current third base option, Coghlan, whose production fell off a cliff in 2010 after a spectacular rookie year in 2009, when he amassed 2.7 WAR. He had a particularly high BABIP in '09, but he also had a 22.5% line drive rate that year, which actually jumped in 2010 to 24.0%, so he looks to be a consistent high-BABIP guy. If he can knock his strikeout rate down closer to his '09 levels again, he should be an extremely dangerous lead-off or 2-hitter.
A move to Arizona would mean that Coghlan wouldn't have to change positions, so he could focus on regaining the prowess at the plate that he demonstrated in 2009. While Reynolds is the superior player, Coghlan is slated to make minimum for another year, so he'll provide a ton of surplus value in 2011 if he can rebound. It's really an issue of whether or not you're a believer that he'll get his K-rate back in good order, and none of his plate discipline peripherals scare me, so I see no reason why he wouldn't.
Looking at relievers, Leo Nunez just finished a spectacular 1.5-WAR campaign for the Marlins. Nunez, though, is entering his second year of arbitration after making $2MM before a 30-save season, so he could get expensive for Florida's tastes. But if Towers wants an established closer at the back-end of the 'pen, he's not going to find much better on the free agent market than Nunez without giving an expensive three-year deal to Rafael Soriano.
Perhaps Florida would be willing to include Nunez in a deal if we sent back our "closer" from 2010, Juan Gutierrez? His overall numbers in 2010 are ugly, but he was great down the stretch due to downward regression on his HR/FB rate. He makes minimum next year before hitting arbitration, so he'd provide two extra years of cheap relief for Florida over what they'd get from Nunez. Sure, he needs to regress back to his '09 form for the deal to pay dividends for Florida, but so does Coghlan if the deal is going to pay dividends for the Diamondbacks.
It's a risky move for both sides, but here's what I've come up with:
Possible deal: Chris Coghlan and Leo Nunez for Mark Reynolds and Juan Gutierrez.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:
The Angels let go of Chone Figgins a year ago to free agency with the hope that former top-prospect Brandon Wood would finally be able to establish himself in the major leagues. A staggering -1.8 WAR later in 73 games later, Wood was back in Triple-A, though, to his credit, he's still fighting and trying to improve at the Arizona Fall League. However, it's clear that the Angels are going to go into 2011 with Wood as only an emergency option in the major leagues.
Wood's primary replacement last year, Alberto Callaspo, made the shift from second base, where he played in Kansas City, and became an above-average defender at the hot corner. However, Callaspo's walk-taking abilities have descended to lolcatz levels with minimal power, so his value is tied to BABIP. Kevin Frandsen also spent nearly 350 innings at third for the Angels this year, despite playing mostly second base previously with the Giants, but he was below replacement-level
Another option the Angels used, Maicer Izturis is more of a utility/middle-infielder than a third baseman, and possesses little to no power despite decent contact skills and the ability to take a couple of walks here and there. Most of the value in his 3 WAR season from 2009 was his ability to play shortstop and second base with above-average proficiency, so a full-time move to third would likely be deflate his value, since he doesn't have the bat to be an everyday-caliber player there.
So, suffice it to say that there's a need for Mark. In putting together a package to return to Arizona, I'd imagine that the Angels would send us a stop-gap infielder to man third base for us, either Callaspo or Izturis, since they have so many options. We've already shipped off Callaspo once before for being a headache, so I doubt we'll turn around and take him back as part of the package for Mark. This means that Izturis is the most likely starting point for any deal, and he is signed to a team-friendly deal for approximately $3.25MM in 2011 and $4MM in 2012 before hitting free agency.
There aren't any other options for position players to include, since Peter Bourjos' defense makes him too valuable to include and Reggie Willits has less power than a hamster, with a career ISO of .044. So the rest of the package is going to have to consist of bullpen arms, since Izturis alone is far from enough to get Reynolds. Two 'pen arms on the Angels stand out as potential back-end options - Jordan Walden and Kevin Jepsen.
Walden is an two-pitch fireballer (average fastball velocity in '10 - 98.8 mph) who also works with a slider, but who missed far fewer bats in the minor leagues that you would expect with his raw stuff. However, he did strike out an impressive 23 batters in 15 1/3 big-league innings in his brief cameo this year, so he certainly has shown in spurts that he has back-of-the-bullpen potential. Further, with not even close to a full year of big-league service time, he still has six years of control left, which puts him in the same category as the Dodgers' Kenley Jansen and the Braves' Craig Kimbrel as a relief pitcher worth who might be worth building a deal around.
Jepsen, on the other hand, has thrown 122 big-league innings over the last three seasons, so he'll likely have less remaining control than Walden (though I'm not sure how much less). Jepsen's average fastball comes in at 95.7 mph, so he certainly has the velocity to fit in the back-end of the D-backs 'pen, and would likely be our closer in 2011 if acquired. His strikeout rate took a nice jump up in 2010, but so, unfortunately, did his walk rate. As a side note, though, Jepsen's career HR/FB is 4.3%, which is likely aided by his home park, so we can expect a little bit of Chase Field-driven regression.
Particularly if Izturis is involved in the deal, the likelihood of us getting Walden decrease, and the odds of us having to include a reliever or relief prospect of our own probably increase. However, there is the possibility that we make a bold splash and nab Wood as a change-of-scenery candidate who could thrive with the move to a hitter-friendly park in the easier league. It's risky, but taking Wood instead of Izturis would improve the odds of us getting one of the Angels' upper-tier arms.
Possible Deal 1: Maicer Izturis and Kevin Jepsen for Mark Reynolds and Juan Gutierrez/Bryan Shaw.
Possible Deal 2: Brandon Wood and Jordan Walden for Mark Reynolds.
Ever since the A's acquired David DeJesus for Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks, the speculation that this was simply a set-up move for an eventual Billy Beane flip of DeJesus has started flying. I'm confident that DeJesus will be starting 2011 in Oakland, but the outfield certainly isn't the A's biggest area of need. Depending on who you ask, Kevin Kouzmanoff is either a bargain option at third base or a non-tender candidate, due to his incredibly poor bat and the high esteem that UZR holds in his defensive abilities.
If the A's are going to pursue a Reynolds trade, it likely will involve DeJesus. The A's don't have any more excess starting pitching to send our way, and a package of Rajai Davis and 'pen arms isn't going to get Mark. That said, DeJesus alone also isn't going to be enough to get Mark, because Mark is going to cost $1MM less in 2011 and has an extra year on his deal, while DeJesus is set to become a free agent after next season.
I've seen deals proposed by people who I can only assume are A's fans that involve Brad Zielger, but he's not going to be enough to tilt the scales, as he's a 31-year-old reliever who was just around replacement-level last year. No thanks. That said, though, we aren't going to pry Andrew Bailey from the A's, so it's going to have to be a lesser, set-up-quality arm.
Craig Breslow is an option, but he's old (30), not that great (0.4 WAR in each of the last two years), and headed to arbitration for the first time. Henry Rodriguez is likely to be the best option, though the A's will probably be hesitant because of his bat-missing ability (and despite his mediocre control). We may need to chip in a grade-C prospect if we hope to get Rodriguez, or the A's could chip in another piece along with Breslow. Either package could work.
Possible Deal 1: David DeJesus and Henry Rodriguez for Mark Reynolds and a Grade-C prospect.
Possible Deal 2: David DeJesus, Craig Breslow, and a Grade-C prospect for Mark Reynolds.
After the Jose Lopez at third base experiment crashed and burned, Chone Figgins, who had his own share of struggles at second base, is undoubtedly headed back to the corner. This means that if Mark is going to Seattle, Figgins will have to be headed to Arizona. However, a positional change is not going to bring Figgins' wOBA back up to his .333 career average from the mediocre .302 number he posted in 2010. In reality, Figgins' value is likely somewhere around a declining 3 WAR player, and he's owed $9.5MM, $9.5MM, and $8.5MM for the next three years, his age 33, 34, and 35 seasons.
Aside from being too much money for Figgins, that is going to be well out of the D-backs price range, which means that the Mariners are either going to have to chip in somewhere around $10-12MM or so into this deal to begin discussions, or it's not going to happen. Then, the Mariners are going to have to chip in some upper-tier relief arms to make up for the additional difference in Reynolds' and Figgins' value. Add it all up, and I'm thinking that these negotiations would go nowhere. Could it happen? I suppose so. But the Mariners would be foolish to give up on Figgins this early into his contract without giving him a chance to rebuild his value.
Possible Deal: None.
The Rangers are paying Michael Young absurd amounts of money for the next three seasons. Although there's a strong chance that he'll have to move to first or begin DH'ing in the near future, the Rangers are going to put him at the hot corner for as long as they can with the money he's making. So although it's not crazy to think that the Rangers could look into dealing for Mark, I'm not seeing them being willing to give up as much as someone like the Padres, Marlins, Angels, or Cardinals. Maybe next year it would make more sense.
Possible Deal: None.
You can never count the White Sox out of a trade discussion, and Mark Teahen (MONEYBALL!!!) was pretty darn bad for the Sox in 2010. Reynolds would easily be the White Sox's starting third baseman for the next two years, as Dayan Viciedo won't be an everyday big-league player until he sheds his unwillingness to draw a walk. Further, Brent Morel didn't show anything in his brief cameo last year to suggest that he would be chomping at Reynolds' heels anytime soon.
So if we're going to once again open the Arizona/South Side trading pipeline, what could we possibly expect to get in return? If the Gordon Beckham trade rumors have any legitimacy to them, he would be choice #1, even if we had to give up more than just Mark - such as one of our DH-bound prospects - to snag him. He could slide back to third base from second and instantly replace Reynolds in our line-up - he wouldn't be as good in 2011, but he'd be a lot cheaper and has a huge upside. If we pulled off a deal like that, it would be a borderline miracle, and would also be scarily similar to the Edwin Jackson-Daniel Hudson swap.
If the Beckham fantasy can't come true, perhaps a Chris Sale fantasy could? We missed out on picking him sixth overall this year, but he'd be a nice return even 1-for-1 in a Reynolds deal, regardless of whether we choose to try to bring him along as a starter or instantly slot him into our ninth-inning role. Closers may only typically produce 1.5 WAR (with 2 WAR being an absurdly good year), but that production in the ninth inning on the cheap for 3 years pre-arb is fantastic.
Another possibility is to try to patch together a group of relievers from the plethora of solid ones the White Sox currently have. Sergio Santos stands out as being cheap, good, and controllable, with potential for the back-end of the 'pen with his electric arm strength. Then perhaps add one of the contactiest contact hitters in the land, Juan Pierre (the Sox are only on the hook for $5MM of his $8.5MM salary, with the Dodgers chipping in the rest), to fill our left field hole and give us speed at the top of the order. Kevin Towers accomplishes both of his goals with this package and also fills two of the D-backs' line-up needs.
Possible Deal 2: Sergio Santos and Juan Pierre for Mark Reynolds.
Not only are the Royals rebuilding and not looking to add pieces without plenty of control (i.e. Mazzaro), but one of their best prospects, one Mike Moustakas, is going to be given every opportunity to take hold of the everyday third base job in the big leagues. No need to go out and get Reynolds.
Possible Deal: None.
The Indians aren't going anywhere in a huge hurry, and have top prospect Lonnie Chisenhall cruising through the system to claim the everyday gig at third base. Acquiring Reynolds would only serve to block Chisenhall.
Possible Deal: None.
If the Tigers had any interest in Reynolds, they wouldn't have already re-upped Brandon Inge for another two years. Nothing to see here.
Possible Deal: None.
I don't see the Twins as a great fit, since they have tons of power in their line-up (assuming they re-sign Jim Thome), and Danny Valencia produced 2.7 WAR in 84 games for them in 2010. However, Valencia was riding a .345 BABIP without great power or walk-drawing ability, and Thome isn't guaranteed to return. If the Twins aren't willing to take the risk of Valencia seeing huge regression in 2011, a Reynolds deal might not be an awful option. That said, a trade would likely see Valencia heading back to Arizona, since the Twins would have nowhere to put him.
So with five years of control of Valencia as a starting point, it's hard to imagine that the D-backs could get a top-line reliever from the Twins. A possibility is Jose Mijares, who isn't eligible for arbitration until 2012, but his upside isn't great and he'd likely end up a middle reliever. Jeff Manship is another option, and the D-backs would have six years of control over him, but he, like Mijares, doesn't figure to have a huge ceiling.
Perhaps the most intriguing option isn't even a reliever, but beleaguered back-end starter Nick Blackburn. While we haven't discussed the D-backs getting starters for Reynolds in great detail, there is a rotation slot open, and Blackburn has been known to eat innings. He put up 0.4 WAR in 2010 after a 3 WAR season in '09, but a lot of that is due to a significant upwards over-regression in HR/FB rate, which should settle somewhere between his '09 and '10 numbers. Further, jumping from the AL to the NL should help his rates and give him some legitimate upside. Further, he's already been locked into a long-term deal, and is slated to make $3MM in '11, $4.75MM in '12, and $5.5MM in '13 with a club option for the 2014 season.
The added benefit of acquiring Blackburn is that his significant upside helps to counteract the downside of possible downward regression on Valencia's BABIP. In addition, Blackburn may be expendable if the Twins can re-sign Carl Pavano, with Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, and Brian Duensing already in the fold.
Possible Deal: Danny Valencia and Nick Blackburn for Mark Reynolds.
If the Red Sox miss out on Adrian Beltre, they'll have plenty of options, but most of those options are contingent on Kevin Youkilis being able to adequately handle third base. If they don't feel that is the case, they'll likely seek out the next-best option on the third base market, which would be Reynolds. Thankfully (and unsurprisingly), the Red Sox have plenty of young, talented players and relievers who could be expendable given their big-league talent.
The most appealing piece the Sox could offer us is outfielder Ryan Kalish. The former top-prospect had a great year, hitting well at Double-A, Triple-A, and the big leagues, though "contact hitting" isn't quite his thing. Nonetheless, Kalish put up 0.6 WAR in about a third of a season last year against some of the toughest pitching in the world. He would immediately become our everyday left fielder with six years of control, giving us an incredible young outfield. Further, if the Sox land Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth in free agency, Kalish could be expendable in a crowded outfield.
As far as relievers go, Jonathan Papelbon is way out of our price range, but Daniel Bard, who has five years of control remaining (I believe...), sure isn't. Bard's control isn't quite good enough to make him an elite-tier closer, and limiting him to save situations would make him less valuable overall, but a move to the NL wouldn't hurt, and he'd be a nice 1.25-WAR back-end option. However, I'm not convinced that Bard alone is enough to send Reynolds to Boston. Another high-velocity relief arm is Felix Doubront, though he made a few starts for the Red Sox last year, which might jack up his value.
Possible Deal 1: Ryan Kalish for Mark Reynolds.
Possible Deal 2: Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront/Reliever-du-jour for Mark Reynolds.
Evan Longoria is definitely not going anywhere.
Possible Deal: None.
Nope. A-Rod. And, in a year or so, Jeter...
Possible Deal: None.
Josh Bell completely flopped for the Orioles, so there is a hole at third base for Reynolds to fill. However, the problem is that there is a shocking lack of parts for the Orioles to send to Arizona in return. There aren't any third basemen or corner outfielders worth including, and no high-upside relievers to speak of except possibly Jason Berken. In fact, the only piece that might be worth dealing for is Adam Jones, who hasn't progressed like expected but still is a nice 2.5 WAR player with enough physical tools to still have upside.
Jones is headed to arbitration for the first time this year, so he'll be scheduled to make some nice money, but he has three years of control remaining, whereas Reynolds only has one. So even though Reynolds is the better player, it's hard to argue that the D-backs should be asking for much more than Jones in return for Reynolds. If he can benefit from a jump to Chase Field and the NL, and provide plus defense in left field, he would be a plenty-sufficient return for Mark.
Possible Deal: Adam Jones for Mark Reynolds.
Yeah, this is exactly what Toronto needs... more home runs. While they do have a need at third base, with Edwin Encarnacion likely headed elsewhere or to the outfield, I truly have a hard time imagining that they'd even consider adding Reynolds given the way their team is already built. It'd be like if the D-backs traded their entire farm system for Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn to play first and left field...
Possible Deal: None.
So that's all... holy crap that's a lot of writing. After all of the sorting through, here are my possible trade partners for Mark Reynolds: San Diego, Los Angeles (NL), Colorado, San Francisco, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Florida, Los Angeles (AL), Oakland, Chicago (AL), Minnesota, Boston, and Baltimore. Plenty of suitors out there for the second-best third baseman available (which also explains why so many teams are making calls on Beltre).
Let the tearing apart of my trade proposals begin. :-P