New Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds is signed through 2012 with a team option for 2013.
What does that mean for Josh Bell?
It’s a fair question, since the Orioles only sought a one-year deal for a third baseman last winter because they didn’t want to block Bell.
I haven’t spoken to president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, who might shed more light on the subject when he meets with reporters later this afternoon. However, the trade doesn’t have an immediate impact on Bell.
The plan since September has been to give Bell more at-bats at Triple-A Norfolk. I heard that he wasn’t going to compete for a starting job in spring training, and that certainly appears to be true after the Reynolds trade.
The Orioles can’t afford to worry about “blocking players.” If their biggest problem is making room for all of their talent, I’ll personally start covering the lockers in plastic and mapping out the parade route.
I’ve been asked whether Bell will play first base in Norfolk next season. Brandon Snyder might be crowding the bag, so don’t look for a position change. My guess is Bell stays at third and works on cutting down on his strikeouts (yes, I see the irony), drawing more walks and improving his average from the right side.
Bell drew two walks and struck out 53 times in 159 at-bats with the Orioles. He’ll be one of hitting coach Jim Presley’s projects in spring training, assuming that Bell remains in the organization and isn’t packaged in another trade.
I’ve been asked whether Reynolds has played first base. The short answer is “yes.” The longer answer is he’s appeared in 34 games at first, including 24 starts. He appeared in five games totaling nine innings this summer.
The Orioles didn’t acquire him to play first base.
Reynolds made sense from the beginning because the free-agent market for third basemen is putrid. Adrian Beltre was the only guy really worth pursing, and various reports say he’s seeking a five-year deal worth up to $90 million.
The reports on Reynolds’ defense at third put him anywhere from average to bad. One official noted that he’s an upgrade with the glove over the last few players who have handled the hot corner.
Here’s a reminder of Presley’s observations about Reynolds that I posted yesterday morning.
Also, the Diamondbacks reportedly have signed former Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora.
They never let the hot corner cool off before replacing Reynolds.