The Orioles didn’t negotiate a new deal with Mark Reynolds and they didn’t trade him. Faced with tonight’s deadline for offering contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, they chose to non-tender their first baseman and allow him to become a free agent.
“It’s official,” he said.
Reynolds made $7.5 million this year while batting .221/.335/.429 with 26 doubles, 23 homers and 69 RBIs in 135 games. The Orioles declined to pick up his $11 million option for 2013.
Reynolds could re-sign with the Orioles, but he’s indicated a preference to join a team that trains in Arizona. The door isn’t closed, but the club’s decision to let him become a free agent most likely will lead to his departure.
“There was no real negotiation or anything, nothing really until Dan (Duquette) called me about 30 minutes ago and said they were going to non-tender me,” Reynolds said. “I’m excited to move on and see what else is out there, and hopefully be lucky enough get a job somewhere else.
“The door is open for everywhere right now. That’s the plus side of being a free agent. I’ll take my time, sit back and if I’m lucky enough to have options, I’ll study them and look and see what’s best for me and my family and move on from there.”
The Orioles acquired Reynolds from the Diamondbacks during the 2010 Winter Meetings for relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio. Hernandez is still pitching for Arizona.
Chris Davis could start at first base if Duquette doesn’t pull off a trade or sign a free agent.
The Orioles also are expected to non-tender infielder Omar Quintanilla, which would leave them with 38 players on their 40-man roster.
MLB.com first reported that Reynolds was non-tendered.
Update: Quintanilla and reliever Stu Pomeranz also become free agents after being non-tendered. Pomeranz was designated for assignment earlier today.
Quintanilla batted 232/.284/.354 with three doubles, three homers and 12 RBIs in 36 games. He wasn’t expected to be retained, and tonight’s trade for infielder Yamaico Navarro pretty much sealed his exit.
Still waiting for the Orioles to confirm that they’ve offered contracts to their nine remaining arbitration-eligible players.
Update II: As expected, the Orioles offered contracts to Davis, starter Jason Hammel, starter-turned-reliever Tommy Hunter, closer Jim Johnson, starter-turned-specialist Brian Matusz, reliever Darren O’Day, left-handed reliever Troy Patton, outfielder Nolan Reimold and catcher Matt Wieters.
Davis made $488,000 while batting .270/.326/.501 with 20 doubles, 33 homers and 85 RBIs. He could emerge as the starting first baseman. Designated hitter and part-time left fielder also are possibilities.
Hammel, who made $4.75 million, was an All-Star candidate before he began to struggle and later underwent surgery on his right knee. He finished 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 20 starts. Pencil him into the rotation.
Hunter made $493,500 while going 7-8 with a 5.45 ERA in 33 games, including 20 starts. He allowed 32 homers in 133 2/3 innings. He was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk and later moved to the Orioles’ bullpen, where he could begin the 2013 season.
Johnson, who made $2.625 million, placed seventh in the American League Cy Young voting and 14th in MVP voting after going 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA and 51 saves in 54 chances. You don’t hear any talk of making him a starter anymore.
Matusz, who made $1.45 million and is in his first year of arbitration eligibility as a Super Two, went 6-10 with a 4.87 ERA in 34 games, including 16 starts. He returned from Norfolk as a lefty specialist, and could resume that role next season. Left-handers batted .175 against him. He posted a 1.35 ERA in 18 relief appearances.
O’Day, signed for $1.35 million after Andy MacPhail left the front office and before Dan Duquette arrived, went 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 69 games. One of the best additions of the off-season by any team. He allowed 49 hits, walked 14 and struck out 69 in 67 innings, and pretty much handled the set-up duties late in the season.
Patton made $483,500 while going 1-0 with a 2.43 ERA in 54 games. Left-handers hit .212 against him.
Nolan Reimold, who made $490,500, batted .313/.333/.627 with six doubles, five homers and 10 RBIs in 16 games. He didn’t play after April and underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck and fuse two vertebrae. He expects to be fully recovered and competing for the left field job in spring training.
The Orioles renewed Wieters’ contract for $500,000 in spring training, creating a mild controversy that he quickly defused. Wieters responded by batting .249/.329/.435 with 27 doubles, 23 homers and 83 RBIs. He won his second Gold Glove, made his second All-Star team and finished 21st in MVP voting.
The Orioles rarely go to arbitration and they rarely lose when it happens. They will try to reach agreements with the nine players tendered contracts tonight.
Hearings will be scheduled in February if the sides can’t reach agreement once salary figures are submitted.
The Orioles won their case against pitcher Brad Bergesen last winter. He settled for $800,000 instead of the $1.2 million he sought.