St. Louis Cardinals Agree to Deal with Mark Reynolds


According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and MLB Network, the St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to a contract with infielder Mark Reynolds:

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Derrick Goold reported that Reynolds will get a one-year deal for $2 million with incentives for playing time. Reynolds, a 6-foot-2, 220-pounder, has been infamous throughout the course of his career for his extreme tendencies at the plate. He tends to either hit a home run or strike out; in fact, he’s struck out 1398 times in his 4380 big-league plate appearances, or 31.9 percent of the time. He led the major leagues in strikeouts every year from 2008 to 2011, though his strikeouts have begun to come down a bit over the past several seasons.

On the bright side, Reynolds is a prolific power hitter. Despite hitting just .196 in 2014, he hit 22 home runs. He’s hit at least 20 homers in every season since 2008, and he’s hit as many as 44, which he did in 2009 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Reynolds has averaged 32 homers per 162 games of his big-league career. So while whatever team that takes him on has to be willing to put up with strikeouts and a lack of contact hitting, he does pay off with his power.

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It’s possible that Reynolds could get starts at first against lefties and spell Matt Adams, who hit .190 against them in 2014. With that said, Reynolds’ splits were not at all better, as he hit .173 with three homers, six RBI, and 25 strikeouts in 98 at-bats against left-handers. More than anything, Reynolds will be able to provide the coverage at the corner infield positions that the Cards lost when they decided to non-tender Daniel Descalso.

The perception in recent years seems to be that Reynolds is limited largely to first base, though he has shown the ability to fill in at his original position of third on occasion. Reynolds played 91 games at first in 2014, but he also played 42 games at third. He was just slightly below league average in range factor per game at third during 2014, finishing the season with a 1.90. For the first time, he also showed the ability to play the outfield, appearing in three games in right, though it’s unlikely that the Cardinals would turn to him to play there, especially considering that they have more depth in the outfield than at any other position on the diamond.

Reynolds’ presence probably eliminates the possibility of top prospect Stephen Piscotty starting the year with the big-league club unless an injury occurs before the start of the season. There had been discussion earlier this week of Piscotty, usually an outfielder, starting to play first base in an effort to get him involved, but with Reynolds in the fold to handle the backup duties at that position, there won’t be an opportunity for Piscotty to join the mix there.