The winter meetings didn’t last quite long enough for the Indians. Three days after the meetings ended in Nashville, several sources were reporting that the Tribe has filled its hole at first base by signing free-agent slugger Mark Reynolds.
Fallout from the one-year, $6 million deal includes this: It is unlikely that the Indians will continue to pursue Kevin Youkilis. Both Reynolds and Youkilis can play first and third bases, but the Tribe is committed to giving Lonnie Chisenhall the job at third. At least he will receive an extended trial.
Most of the speculation around the Tribe has centered on the prospective signing of free-agent outfielder Nick Swisher and apparently the Indians remain a player for the former Yankee and Ohio State star.
Why did General Manager Chris Antonetti decide to quit waiting for Youkilis to make up his mind (he also has an offer from the Yankees)? Maybe he knew he had lost the battle with the Bronx Bombers, or maybe he thought he would lose Reynolds and Youkilis if he continued to bide his time.
Reynolds, 29, played four years with the Diamondbacks and the last two with the Orioles. In 2012, he batted .221 with 26 doubles, 23 home runs, 65 runs and 69 RBI. The downside is that Reynolds tends to swing hard in case he hits it. He struck out 159 times in 457 at-bats last season, and for his career he has gone down on strikes an average of once every 2.6 at-bats.
His best season was 2009 with the Diamondbacks, when he hit 44 home runs, drove in 102 and batted .260. He also struck out 223 times in 578 at-bats and stole 24 bases. It was the only time Reynolds has stolen more than 11 bases.
In addition to his base salary, Reynolds can earn an additional $1.5 million based on plate appearances. If he reaches these incentives, he would equal his 2012 salary of $7.5 million.
Reynolds, a right-handed batter, gives the Indians the kind of versatility they need. Last season, he played108 games at first, 15 at third and 12 at designated hitter. The Tribe currently does not have a DH, having parted company with Travis Hafner.
Reynolds began his pro career in 2004 after being drafted by Arizona.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.