The Washington Nationals‘ rumor mill has heated back up as John Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the team is interested in acquiring an infielder.
nationals, rangers, twins, orioles & yankees among teams that have been in on mark reynolds.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 13, 2014
Just when we thought that Mike Rizzo and the Nationals were done making moves, it appears as though Rizzo has picked up the phone again. Last week he signed a pair of infielders in Jamey Carroll and Mike Fontenot to minor league deals with Spring Training invites. Boosting the infield depth as well as the bench was a priority entering the offseason, and it seems that Rizzo isn’t done with that task yet.
On top of Fontenot and Carroll, Washington will also have outfielder Nate McClouth available on the bench. As it currently sits, they have three solid options for Matt Williams to turn to when he needs a pinch hitter. Would adding a fourth in Mark Reynolds be a good idea? Absolutely.
At 30-years-old, Reynolds is younger than both Fontenot (33) and Carroll (40). He’s got seven years of experience with four different clubs — most notably the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Baltimore Orioles — and he spent last season with the New York Yankees. While he has a career .233 batting average, that’s likely not what attracts the Nationals to him. Rather, his .464 slugging percentage is quite appealing and would be great to have stashed away on the bench.
Reynolds is a power hitter and swings for the fences. He doesn’t just try to hit balls; he tries to annihilate them. Between 2008 and 2013, Reynolds has hit at least 21 home runs each year. Along with his career 202 home runs, he has 568 RBI. As stated before, his strikeout frequency can be worrisome, but it’s his power that makes him such an intriguing target.
Along with his ability at the plate, he could also contribute in the field. Reynolds has experience all over the infield but mostly at third and first base. With an underachieving Adam LaRoche at first base, signing Reynolds would make for an interesting Spring Training battle. Ryan Zimmerman is set in stone at third base, but having an experienced third baseman that could spot start isn’t a bad thing to have.
Of course, you also have to think about the impact this has on Danny Espinosa. After a solid 2012 campaign, Espinosa came apart in 2013 and was eventually relegated to the minor leagues. Rizzo has said before that he wants to hang onto him because of the potential that he posses, but now the Nationals have signed two infielders to compete with him in Spring Training and they are rumored to be after another. As Nick Commando points out, it’s possible a trade could be coming, but it’s unclear when, where or what for.
The seven-year veteran has earned at least $5.5 million per year over the past three seasons, so it’s likely he’ll be going for a contract around that figure. For a bench player that would only be making spot starts, that’s a little steep even for a team with as much wiggle room as the Nationals. If they can get him for one-year and under $3-4 million, that could be a deal worth making.
Signing Mark Reynolds would boost the bench and the infield depth for the Nats. He would bring a big bat to D.C. and would really only help the team. The only thing that could stand in their way is Reynolds asking for too much since he could just as easily go somewhere else and step into a starting role for more money.