Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said the club tried to find a way to figure Mark Reynolds' impending 2013 salary into its budget, but couldn't.
So instead of paying him roughly $9 million in arbitration, the Orioles did not tender the first baseman a contract Friday night, allowing him to be a free agent.
"We had determined that his value in arbitration was beyond our resources to bring him back to the team," Duquette said. "We like Mark and he gave a good effort for the team, so we certainly appreciated that. But with some of the other commitments we have, it was hard to fit him into the team the way his contract is structured. We tried to find a way to do it, but we couldn't find a way to make it fit."
Reynolds said Duquette never made his representatives an offer after his option was declined in November. In response, Duquette said the organization internally tried to come up with a number that would work, but never got to that point.
"We looked at it and we explored a couple different structures and it was very challenging to find a fit," Duquette said.
When asked who would be his starting first baseman right now, Duquette joked, "I don't think we are playing tomorrow."
When asked if he was looking at potential replacements for Reynolds, Duquette said: "I think we need to give this a little time."
He did not rule out re-signing Reynolds later this winter, but given what he said about not being able to fit the first baseman into the current financial structure, Duquette was asked whether he could make it fit once Reynolds becomes a free agent and receives offers from other teams.
"I think we need to see what his value is in the market."
In another move, the Orioles signed infielder Alexi Casilla to a one-year, $1.7 million deal to avoid arbitration Friday, but they also added a $3 million team option ($200,000 buyout) for 2014, when Casilla could become a free agent.
"If he has a good year," Duquette said, "the team will be in position to retain his services."