The Orioles have decided not to offer Mark Reynolds a contract for the 2013 season. Reynolds will now be a free agent.
Reynolds had an $11 million option for 2013, but he didn’t expect the Orioles to pick it up, and they didn’t. At the time, he said he hoped to remain with the Orioles, but now it’s doubtful he will.
The Orioles had until 11:59 p.m. Friday to offer him a contract. The team clearly did not want to go to arbitration with Reynolds. At the time the Orioles declined Reynolds’ option, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said he liked Reynolds as a player, but didn’t like his contract.
Reynolds is now free to explore his options. So are the Orioles. It’s possible the Orioles will re-sign him if Reynolds has few options.
“They can do whatever they want. It’s part of the business,” Reynolds said on Friday night. “No hard feelings.”
Duquette said late on Friday night that if the team and Reynolds went to arbitration, it would have been too costly.
“We had determined that his value in the arbitration was beyond our resources to bring him back to the team,” Duquette said.
“We were trying to find a way to keep him, but we just couldn’t fit him in.”
Acquired two years ago from Arizona for David Hernandez, Reynolds led the Orioles with 37 home runs in 2011, but also led the majors in errors. When the team acquired Chris Davis from Texas in July, Reynolds often moved from third base to first, but insisted he wanted to play third.
Moved back to third base to start 2012, Reynolds had a rocky start both offensively and defensively. He was moved back to first base in May. In the last two months of 2012, Reynolds improved markedly as a first baseman, and his offense picked up, too.
He ended the season with a .221 average, 23 home runs and 69 RBIs.
The Orioles will now look at Davis as the only real in-house possibility at first. They’ll also explore the trade and free agency market. Some of the most prominent first basemen available as free agents include Adam LaRoche, Nick Swisher, Carlos Pena and Kevin Youkilis.
All are older than the 29-year-old Reynolds. LaRoche and Swisher are likely to carry more expensive price tags.
“I’m excited about the future and what it holds whether it’s with the Orioles for elsewhere,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds said he wouldn’t eliminate the Orioles from consideration.
“I’m not going to close any doors. Dan called me and said the light’s still on, whatever that means,” Reynolds said.
“We’ll have to see how it develops. I appreciated the effort. I thought that Mark did a nice job,” Duquette said.
The Orioles tried to sign LaRoche two winters back, but he wanted a longer contract than they’d offer and they signed Derrek Lee instead. LaRoche signed with the Washington Nationals. He’s seeking a three-year contract, and at 33, the Orioles may be reluctant to give him that.
If LaRoche re-signs with Washington, Michael Morse, who plays both first and left field, two areas of need for the Orioles, could be available in a trade.
The Orioles also didn’t offer contracts to infielder Omar Quintanilla and right-handed pitcher Stu Pomeranz. Quintanilla was acquired from the New York Mets on July 20 and batted .232 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 36 games, but ended his time with the Orioles with an 0-for-30 slump. Pomeranz had been designated for assignment earlier on Friday.
The Orioles have 38 players on their 40-man roster.