Orioles exploring new contract for Reynolds before arbitration deadline (and notes)

Uncomfortable with the possibility of going to arbitration with Mark Reynolds, the Orioles are attempting to reach agreement on a new deal with their first baseman before Friday’s deadline for tendering contracts.

They’ve already declined to exercise Reynolds’ $11 million option for 2013 after he made $7.5 million this year. He’s expected to be non-tendered if a new deal isn’t in place.

Reynolds struggled mightily at the plate in the first half and hit .221/.335/.429 with 26 doubles, 23 homers and 69 RBIs in 135 games. His move across the diamond to first base helped to tighten up the defense, which had led the majors in errors for much of the season.

reynolds-home-white-sidebar.jpg“Obviously, Reynolds had a decent year and he’s been a contributor to the team for (two) years now,” said executive vice president Dan Duquette. “We’ve got to take a look at that. We turned down the option. We liked the player. We didn’t like the price of the option. So we’ll see if we can do something between now and when we have to make a decision on that.

“We could negotiate a deal with him, which we’re exploring. That’s what we’ll be doing between now and Friday.”

Reynolds has indicated that he’d prefer to stay with the Orioles.

“That’s what I understand, yes,” Duquette said.

Reynolds will test the free agent market if an agreement isn’t reached and he’s non-tendered. If that happens, it will become a priority for the Orioles to obtain a first baseman before opening day, whether it’s at the Winter Meetings or later. Otherwise, they could seek a designated hitter or left fielder as an additional bat.

Reynolds is projected to make about $9 million if he goes to arbitration, which is too pricey for the Orioles.

“He’s had some other substantial years where he’s hit more home runs than he hit this past year,” Duquette said, explaining the projected increase. “You’d have to factor that into his value in arbitration.”

The Orioles have 14 arbitration-eligible players. Here’s the list again, in case you haven’t memorized it:

Alexi Casilla
Chris Davis
Jason Hammel
Tommy Hunter
Jim Johnson
Brian Matusz
Darren O’Day
Troy Patton
Steve Pearce
Omar Quintanilla
Nolan Reimold
Mark Reynolds
Taylor Teagarden
Matt Wieters

“We’ve been putting together our financial projections and what the guys on our roster will make, and we can see the range,” Duquette said. “But a number of the players on our roster, a number of them had good years. Built into their good performances are salary raises. We think we can fit most of them on our team. One or two of them we may not be able to fit, but we’re trying to fit that group into our payroll.”

Notes: The Orioles have signed another player from the independent American Association, according to this story. His name is Buddy Sosnoskie, and he’s a left-handed hitting outfielder who played this year for the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks.

Sosnoskie, 23, batted .339/.357/.484 with 18 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 31 RBIs, 35 runs scored and nine steals. Baseball America named him the seventh-best prospect in independent baseball.

The Royals chose Sosnoskie in the 25th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Virginia Tech, but he didn’t sign.

Also, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer will receive the “Player Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation at the 10th annual “In The Spirit of the Game” Sports and Entertainment Spectacular on Jan. 12 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.

The foundation has helped baseball scouts in need due to job loss, illness or financial hardships over the past nine years through the success of the annual “In The Spirit of the Game” Sports and Entertainment Spectacular. Dennis Gilbert heads the foundation.

“When you talk about the best pitchers in baseball history, Jim Palmer is certainly at the top of the list among the greatest of all-time,” Gilbert said. “When he took the mound for the Orioles, you knew he would be tough to beat. His lifetime statistics speak volumes of his performance. He amazingly completed more than 40 percent of his 521 lifetime starts, which is unheard of these days.”

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