Mark Reynolds, who spent the past two seasons as a starting corner infielder with the Orioles, has agreed to terms on a one-year deal worth $6 million plus incentives with the Cleveland Indians, according to an industry source.
Reynolds, 29, hit .221 with 23 homers and 69 RBIs in 135 games last year after a 2011 season in which he hit a team-leading 37 homers in 155 games.
The Orioles held an $11 million option on Reynolds for 2013 that the club declined this offseason, preferring instead to buy it out for $500,000. They also could have taken him to arbitration this winter -- where he likely would have made roughly $9 million after earning $7.5 million last season -- but instead did not offer him a contract, allowing him to become a free agent. At the time, club executive vice president Dan Duquette said the team was not opposed to bringing him back, but would first allow him to test his value on the open market.
It became pretty clear that the Orioles were moving on when they didn’t attempt to make Reynolds an offer before non-tendering him a contract and when they did not meet with his representatives during baseball’s winter meetings in Nashville.
Reynolds expressed disappointment when he and the Orioles could not reach agreement, but said he was interested in finding a club that held its spring training in Arizona, where he lives in the offseason and could spend more time with his family. The Indians train in Goodyear, Arizona, near Phoenix.
The Orioles acquired Reynolds in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks in December 2010 to be the club’s starting third baseman. He struggled at the position in each of his two years in Baltimore, but he thrived defensively last season when he was switched to first base.
Laidback in the clubhouse but mostly intense on the field, Reynolds was lauded by teammates for his work ethic and his toughness. Fans seemed to embrace his grittiness, but were frustrated by his penchant for striking out and his streakiness – which included red-hot periods and times when he couldn’t put the ball in play.
Still, without a set first baseman for next year – Chris Davis is the most likely candidate for now – and a lineup that could use some power, Reynolds’ departure leaves the Orioles with some uncertainty.
As of Sunday evening, the Indians had not made the transaction official, which is pending a physical. CBSSports.com first reported the signing.