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With the Rumor Mill officially swirling in Red Sox Nation prior to next week’s winter meetings, it would be interesting to look into who will potentially be available in the coming weeks. Mark Reynolds of the Baltimore Orioles is the kind of player Boston may be looking to add if their pursuit of Mike Napoli comes up fruitless. Primarily a third baseman for most of his career, Reynolds found a home at first base during the 2012 campaign when his defense was beginning to become suspect (6 errors at the hot corner in only fifteen games last year). The Orioles declined a club option on Reynolds (worth $11.5 million), and with the emergence of Chris Davis as a slugging first baseman, Reynolds could become the odd man out.
Boston has a drastic need for a first baseman, as their internal options are limited to resigning James Loney or using a combination of Mauro Gomez and Jerry Sands. One of the, now excess, catchers Boston has could also be eligible to switch positions and play some first base, but the organization seems to want all three to remain at the catcher position with Ryan Lavarnway starting the season in AAA. Loney and Gomez didn’t exactly crush the ball during their short stint with the team, and Sands has yet to truly prove himself at the major league level. Reynolds has a career OBP of .332, which is almost 100 points higher than his career average.
Over a 162 game average, based on his career numbers, Reynolds would be projected to hit 34 home runs and drive in 95 base runners. If the Red Sox continue with their goal to improve their hitting at home, Reynolds is a prime candidate to pull the ball towards the Green Monster on a consistent basis. Reynolds would hurt their overall team metric of consistently getting on base, but if the team is already planning to move ahead with Jose Iglesias as the starting shortstop, it shouldn’t hurt to add another guy who can at least give the offense a power boost thirty times a year.
Hypothetically, Reynolds should be smack in the middle of the prime of his career at age 29, but his meteorically high strikeout numbers have held him back from being an all-star caliber talent. A player with the ability to hit thirty home runs is beginning to become a commodity in this new age of pitching prowess, and if the Red Sox can acquire Reynolds for the right price, he could make for an adequate one or two year stop gap to fill the hole at first base while Sands and Lavarnway develop in the minors.
In 21 career games at Fenway Park, Reynolds has hit for a slash line of .276 AVG/.364 OBP/.566 SLG/.929 OPS/6 HR/16 RBI. Though it would be a dream to assume that he could carry out those numbers over the course of 81 games at home, it could be safe to assume that he could achieve eighty percent of those projections, which would develop into .221 AVG/.291 OBP/.453 SLG/.743 OPS/19 HR/49 RBI. At the right price, these could be great home numbers for Reynolds, and if he hits for eighty percent of his home pace during away games, he could end up with 34 HR and 88 RBI.
Accounting for the fact that he would not play in every game, and would probably sit around his career average of 148 games, that would put him at 31 HR and 80 RBI. If the Red Sox fail in their pursuit of Mike Napoli and Reynolds does not receive a contract offer from the Orioles, he could be a welcome addition to the Red Sox, pending the contract favors the future of the team.
Statistics courtesy of BaseballReference.com and Sports.Yahoo.com