The Nationals have signed infielder Mark Reynolds to a minor-league deal. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman was the first to report news of the deal on Thursday, while The Washington Post’s Jorge Castillo was the first to report that it was a minors pact.
Reynolds, 34, is surely disappointed to be receiving a minor-league contract after putting together his best offensive season since 2012 last year. After coming into Rockies camp on a minor-league deal and locking down the starting first base job following an injury to Ian Desmond, Reynolds posted a .267/.352/.487 slash line with 30 home runs and 97 RBI in 593 plate appearances. Even with the odds stacked against him from a park factor standpoint playing in hitter-friendly Coors Field, he still managed to post an above-average 104 OPS+.
Just a few years ago, a hitter coming off a 30-homer season surely would’ve earned a decent contract on the free-agent market. But baseball’s “home run revolution,” an oversaturation of talented first basemen in the game, and a free-agent market that was brutal to players over 30 were all factors in keeping Reynolds from earning a big-league job.
While Reynolds has been confined almost exclusively to first base for the past two seasons, he has experience all over the diamond and has logged big-league time at second, third, and both corner outfield spots in addition to first over his 11-year career. The Nationals already have two very good first basemen in Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Adams, so it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Reynolds fill more of a utility role if he ultimately makes it to the majors with the Nats. Last year, Washington was willing to give 25 starts in left field to Adam Lind, who hadn’t seen time in the outfield since 2010, so it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch for them to do the same with Reynolds. That’s especially true considering their manager is Dave Martinez — a disciple of Joe Maddon, who is bolder with using players out of position than any other manager in the majors.
Reynolds grew up in Virginia Beach, attended the University of Virginia, and previously played with the Orioles for two seasons, so he’ll be no stranger to the DMV area if he’s promoted by the Nationals.