The Colorado Rockies have re-signed first baseman Mark Reynolds to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training, according to Jon Heyman from FanRag Sports.
Acquired in 2016, Reynolds hit .286/.356/.450 over 120 games and 420 plate appearances for the Rockies. He did quite a bit of damage at Coors Field, putting up a .880 home OPS versus a .732 road OPS while cutting his strikeout rate to a career-low 25.4%. Part of the reason he was brought in was to help the team’s production against left handers, but he bucked his career trend, resulting in a mere .673 OPS. Kershaw’s tough, huh?
He went on the disabled list on August 15th due to a broken left hamate bone. Usually those injuries take a long time to recover from but he returned after just two weeks and showed he could still hit, putting up a .933 September OPS with 2 home runs in 10 games. He also provided above average defense, saving 4 runs above average over 907 innings according to both DRS and Total Zone. That defensive prowess at first base is important for a Gold Glove caliber infield that didn’t seem to suffer the likes of substandard receivership (Read: Wilin Rosario) all that well.
General Manager Jeff Bridich’s acquisition of Reynolds was one of his better value transactions to date. Given Reynolds performance, there was even some speculation that he would be brought back for a reunion. Nonetheless, it was all quiet on the Reynolds front during the offseason and after Ian Desmond was signed, it appeared Reynolds’s days with the Rockies were, well, Marked.
Bringing Reynolds back on a minor league deal does not make him the starting first baseman over Desmond. What it does do is enable Reynolds to be the best right handed bat off the bench. It also allows for Manager Bud Black to have some interesting day-off and double switch options. We’ve seen Carlos Gonzalez sit against tough lefties. Perhaps against Madison Bumgarner, Carlos Gonzalez or David Dahl get the day off, sliding Desmond to the outfield while Reynolds mans first. Reynolds could also conceivably pinch hit for the pitcher, then remain in the game as Desmond floats to whatever spot is appropriate. There’s also some additional marginal utility where Reynolds could show off some of his own versatility and give Nolan Arenado a day off at third base.
There is also a cascading effect: Reynolds makes the team, it increases the overall depth in the organization. If this takes place, the biggest casualty of this move in terms of major league opportunities may be Jordan Patterson, who was a bit redundant with Gerardo Parra around and would then be closer to the fifth wheel of a tricycle. Parra also loses potential playing time as he could be crowded in the infield and the outfield.
Resigning Reynolds may also give a hint as to the front office’s mindset this offseason. The obvious move, it seemed, was signing a big first baseman. Instead, they signed Ian Desmond. Maybe the Rockies felt that the gain on offense from a Mark Trumbo or Edwin Encarnacion not only wasn’t worth the contract cost, but that it would not have been worth a frustrated infield dealing with a defensively deficient first baseman. Maybe the team also felt that he had time to find a first baseman but that finding someone as versatile as Ian Desmond was much more difficult. Reynolds, whether as organizational depth or occasional first baseman, manages to fill a variety of needs for a Rockies team that is pleased with what he did and happy to have him back for more.