The Orioles hope they have a hard decision to make on Mark Reynolds. The team holds an option for 2013 on Reynolds, and until a few days ago, it seemed a certainty theyd decline it and allow the 29-year-old first baseman to test free agency.After a horrid start to the season, Reynolds has finally gotten hot. His 11-for-27 homestand, which included four home runs in the last six games, only got his average up to .220.A year ago, Reynolds had 37 home runs and knocked in 86 runs. He missed some time in May with an oblique muscle strain, but Reynolds is still far off that pace. He has 12 home runs and 42 RBIs.If the Orioles exercise their option on Reynolds, theyd owe him 11 million. If they dont, they just owe him a 500,000 buyout. Of course, they could decline the option and try to negotiate with him for a lower rate.When Reynolds was making six errors in just 15 games at third base early this season, the chances of him returning next season were nil.Hes made four errors in 64 games at first base and has been showing off a deft glove and much improved timing. There arent many quality free agency candidates at first base. With a good final 44 games, Reynolds could make himself into an attractive first base option for someone elseor even the Orioles.The Orioles have the recently promoted Joe Mahoney on hand, but hes not a power hitter, though he has a good glove. Aaron Baker, who was obtained for Derrek Lee in July 2011, showed lots of power at Frederick, but just after he was promoted to Bowie, suffered a season-ending injury.With Manny Machado at third, Reynolds at first and the combination of Lew Ford and Nate McLouth in left, the Orioles weak defense now seems much stronger.This week, manager Buck Showalter admitted that he felt fortunate to have gotten away with some of the defensive moves he was forced to make. After he moved Reynolds to first, Wilson Betemits play at third wasnt much better.Machado is here, Betemit is hurt. The defense is stronger, and though theyve still committed the most errors in the majors, the Orioles defense is looking up.
Thanks to Reynolds, Orioles defense is looking up
August 17, 2012, 8:56 pm