Orioles acquire Mark Reynolds from Diamondbacks

Club makes its first major move of the offseason by trading pitchers Hernandez and Mickolio for hard-hitting Arizona third baseman

December 06, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Orioles knew all the drawbacks.

Mark Reynolds batted just .198 last season for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has struck 200 times in each of the past three seasons, while no other player has done it once in the history of baseball. In 26 career games against American League East teams, including the Orioles, Reynolds is 10-for-67 (.149) with one homer, seven RBIs and 33 strikeouts.

However, the Orioles ultimately decided that those inadequacies were well worth adding his power to the middle of their order, and Monday they acquired the slugging third baseman from the Diamondbacks for relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio.

"Obviously, we are delighted," Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said. "We made no secret of the fact that we were looking to improve our offense this season. We don't think we are necessarily done, [but] we think Mark Reynolds definitely represents that."

Reynolds, a 27-year-old who is signed through 2012 with an option for 2013, has averaged 35 homers and 95 RBIs over the past three seasons and had 44 homers, 102 RBIs and 24 stolen bases in 2009. Even during a disappointing 2010 season, Reynolds would have led the Orioles in homers (32), RBIs (85) and walks (83) and been tied with Nick Markakis for the team lead in runs (79).

"It was borderline embarrassing," Reynolds said 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 hate missing games, I hate missing at-bats. 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 struggled in the first half with a quadriceps injury. He finally felt healthy until he was hit in the head Aug. 3 by a 95 mph fastball from the Washington Nationals' Collin Balester. He also hurt his hand in September but still managed to play 145 games.

"No matter what, I'm going to try and play every day, play every game," he said. "I am definitely going to leave the field dirty. I am not afraid to dive into the stands; I am not afraid to take on a catcher at home plate. I definitely play the game 100 percent, full board, all nine innings."

Reynolds acknowledged that he didn't want to leave Arizona, where he resides year-round just 10 minutes from the Diamondbacks' spring training facility. However, Reynolds, who grew up in Virginia Beach, Va., said he is also happy that he'll be closer to his family.

MacPhail and Arizona general manager Kevin Towers started talking about the trade about three weeks ago. Towers, who was hired by the Diamondbacks in September and is touted for his ability to build bullpens, was desperate to overhaul Arizona's relief corps. MacPhail, meanwhile, had a vacancy at third base, was not in on the Adrian Beltre sweepstakes and was having a hard time finding a right-handed power bat.

MacPhail, who is also trying to find a first baseman and a shortstop, has been reluctant to trade any of his young pitchers and acknowledged that it was a tough sell even with this deal.

"The currency that the Baltimore Orioles have that is the most valuable [players] are some of our young players and, in particular, some of our pitchers," he said. "It was becoming apparent to us that we were going to have to use that currency to get other things we needed."

Hernandez, a 25-year-old right-hander who was converted from a starter to a reliever this past season, went 8-8 with a 4.31 ERA in 41 appearances (eight starts) in 2010. As a reliever, he was 7-3 with a two saves, a 3.16 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 33 appearances. Some scouts project Hernandez, who has a mid-90s fastball and a hard curveball, as a potential closer.

"I'll have a chance to play closer to home, but I always thought I'd be in Baltimore for years to come," said Hernandez, a California native. "It just didn't work out that way. I'll miss all the friends I made there, the guys in the clubhouse. The organization did some good things for me. I thought I was part of the future there, but somebody has to go to make improvements. You can't keep everybody."

Mickolio, 26, also has closer-type stuff, but the 6-foot-9 right-hander has struggled with injuries and inconsistency. In 23 appearances with the Orioles over the past three seasons, Mickolio had a 4.32 ERA. However, he had an especially difficult 2010 season, compiling a 6.37 ERA in 30 appearances for Triple-A Norfolk and a 7.36 ERA in three outings for the Orioles.

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