What can Mark Reynolds offer the Phillies?
First of all, he can guard the hot corner—not well, posting a career UZR of -19, dWAR of -0.8 and a RF/9 of 2.44 at 3B—but he could fill in well enough to allow Placido Polanco to cover 2B. When Chase Utley’s zombie corpse is successfully reanimated by team physician Jobu, Reynolds can cycle through the outer infield and corner outfield positions giving the regulars time off, as well as being another long-term option in RF. In the meantime, this will allow Wilson Valdez to stick to being a utility player,
Defense aside, Reynolds’ main contribution will be with the bat. Aside from striking out once in a while (he’s the only man ever to strikeout 200 times in a season, and he’s done it three times), he hits the ball a ton. Over the last four seasons, he’s hit 121 HRs with an OPS of .817. Add to that 99 doubles and 26 net steals, and his oWAR adds up to 8.8 (or 9.1 from Fangraphs). Plus, as a righthander, he’ll fit in well with the Phillies’ decidedly left-of-center lineup.
If he can produce 2+ WAR a season, his salary of $12.5M over the next two years will be a reasonable bargain. The $11M team option in 2013 probably won’t be a bargain, but it’s against a $500K buyout.
So how to get him?
The obvious choice may be to offer Joe Blanton as the centerpiece of any trade, and he would be a good fit for the Orioles, whose opening day starter is likely to be Jeremy Guthrie. They’re a rebuilding team, however, so they would likely want a prospect as well, in addition to cash to keep salary down. Since any deal needs to make sense for both teams, obviously, the O's will need to throw in something as well. With that in mind, I’d like to propose the following trade: The Phillies send Joe Blanton, $4.5M, Cody Overbeck and possibly Freddy Galvis to the Orioles in exchange for Mark Reynolds and Chris Tillman.
This does several things. First, it fills the hole at 2B with Gold Glove caliber defense: Polanco. Second, it returns a RH power bat to the lineup who, despite the strikeouts, contributes ~2 WAR a year. Third, it gives Cholly a long-term option for a solid utility player upon Utley’s return. Fourth, it moves the team’s average age in the right direction. Finally, Tillman is a 22-year-old "prospect" (he has 118.2 ML innings) with a plus mid-90s fastball, a good curve and who threw a no-no at AAA.
For the Orioles, they get a solid, established Major League starter, who, in their rotation should slot in at No. 2, for a net zero change in salary. They get an outstanding defensive prospect in Galvis, who should be ready in a year or two, and a solid hitting prospect in Overbeck who hit 25 HRs at Clearwater and Reading last year.
To me, this trade makes sense. The Phillies, presently, are blessed with dominant starting pitching, but injuries and regression see to make their offense less fearsome than in prior years. They are thus in a position to move an asset like Blanton, who, while clearly not a bad pitcher, is not on the same level as Halladay et al. If Blanton’s spot in the rotation is filled by Worley or Kendrick and Utley is replaced, temporarily, by Reynolds, then you’ve avoided the steeper dropoff between Utley and Valdez.
With other rising stars around the NL East, especially Jason Heyward in Atlanta, the Phillies need to capitalize on their offensive position. Adding a bat like Reynolds is a big step in the right direction. Blanton is obviously an integral part of the pitching staff, and his contributions during the 2008 championship season cannot be ignored or forgotten. However, the Phillies need to replace Utley’s bat somehow, and, to me, this is a better option than playing Valdez full time.