January 21, 2014
The Mark of the Reynolds
By signing with Baltimore, Aceves has now inked contracts with every AL East organization except Tampa Bay. (He signed with the Blue Jays in 2001, though he never appeared in an official game.) At his best, Aceves is a capable swingman who can help a rotation and bullpen alike. Alas, he hasn't been at his best since 2011. The past two seasons have seen him struggle, culminating in last year's mess, in which he allowed almost two home runs per nine innings and walked about as many batters as he fanned. Given the low stakes, the O's can afford to gamble on him returning to form.
Last week, the Orioles signed Delmon Young in a move that smelled like a platoon. Now they've signed Colvin and the scent returns. The former first-round pick barely played in the majors last season, but in the past he's shown impressive raw strength along with the ability to hit right-handed pitchers. Colvin is a liability against southpaws, so he'll need a dance partner to remain effective, but that shouldn't be a problem. Dan Duquette does a good job at finding useful pieces for cheap; don't be surprised if Young or Colvin gives him decent production for cheap. —R.J. Anderson
Signed OF-L Nyjer Morgan to a minor-league deal. [1/14]
DJ Nij-Nnn-Nnn-Nnn-Nice is back after a season spent overseas. Morgan fared well with the Yokohama Bay Stars, reaching base 36 percent of the time and avoiding international incident. Finding a spot for him on the projected is tough—they have three left-handed outfielders pegged to start—but he fits as a defense-minded extra outfielder. It's worth noting the Indians also signed Jeff Francoeur earlier in the offseason, so they've been focused on adding outfield depth. —R.J. Anderson
Signed RHP Brad Penny to a minor-league deal. [1/16]
Forgotten vet signs with a contender needing depth; must be January. Penny last pitched in the majors in 2012, when he mopped up for the Giants, and hasn't done more than emulate Nick Blackburn in some time. His recognizable name and fastball that can touch the mid-90s are bound to earn him attention beyond what his expected value merits, yet it's hard to dislike this deal. In most cases, the pitcher spends time in the minors before fading into the past. Penny might meet the same fate but, on the off chance he doesn't, the Royals could have a useful back-end starter or middle reliever. —R.J. Anderson
Signed 1B-L Lyle Overbay to a minor-league deal. [1/20]
Signed 1B-R Mark Reynolds to a minor-league deal. [1/17]
You figure Milwaukee just found its first baseman. Whether it's Reynolds, Overbay, or both is to be determined, but the bar is set low. As Jack Moore wrote on Monday, the Brewers "fielded the worst squad of first basemen of any team in the history of major professional baseball."
Reynolds's power makes him the traditional option, but there's enough risk here to merit a safety net. Everyone knows how Reynolds went from a hot start to unemployed in a few months' time with the Indians, but his season didn't end there. He signed with the Yankees, tweaked his mechanics under Kevin Long's supervision, and improved his contact rate by a good amount. Those gains didn't change Reynolds much—though he was an above-average hitter with New York—but they could help him take advantage of his power more than he did with the Indians.
Of course if Reynolds' improvements don't hold, then the Brewers can turn to Overbay. He won't offer much pop, but he can still outhit Yuniesky Betancourt—which is an upgrade for the Brewers. —R.J. Anderson
Reynolds is far from a mystery to fantasy owners. He hits a lot of home runs when he gets playing time, but his massive strikeout rates and inability to hit for average significantly reduce his value. It feels like Reynolds’ days as a starter have been numbered for many seasons now, but he keeps finding ways to hang on, amassing 504 PA last season with the Indians and the Yankees. Somehow, he may near the 500 PA benchmark again in 2014, as he’s the prohibitive favorite to start the majority of games at first base for the Brewers.
Miller Park should increase Reynolds’ value, and it wouldn’t be too crazy to see him hit for 25-plus homers and 70-plus RBI if he plays every day. That’s not a given, though, thanks to the motley crew of Lyle Overbay, Juan Francisco, and Hunter Morris, which could keep Reynolds on the bench several times a week. That said, the home ballpark, lack of good competition, and probability of breaking camp in the majors make me list Reynolds as on the rise here, even if I do so without enthusiasm.
Morris has posted mixed results in the high minors over the past few years, but he clearly has some power and could possibly hit for non-embarrassing averages, too. Many thought the Brewers might be tempted to go into the season with the 25-year-old as their everyday first baseman, but when you acquire Reynolds and Overbay to block someone, odds are you don’t hold them in very high esteem. Keep Morris in mind in case injury or ineffectivenesss remove Malyle Roverbaynolds from duty, but you can forget about him otherwise. —Ben Carsley
R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @r_j_anderson