Could a big finish to 2012 put Mark Reynolds into the Orioles’ plans for 2013?

For most of the 2012 season, one that has mostly not been a good one for him, the assumption has been that Mark Reynolds would likely not return to the Orioles for the 2013 season.

But after Reynolds’ recent hot streak at the plate, is there a chance that could change? Can Reynolds still play his way into the Orioles’ plans for next season?

The Orioles hold a team option on his contract, but it would cost them $11 million for next year and that seems very unlikely to get picked up. But if they non-tender him, is it possible they could re-sign Reynolds at a lower price?

Reynolds is trying to make a late-season push to salvage a decent season. There is still time for that to happen and if he stayed hot until the end of the year, during the club’s playoff push, he would probably make a nice impression on the front office.

Over the last eight games, Reynolds is 11-for-29 with four doubles, four homers and 10 RBIs. He has raised his slugging percentage from .358 to .413 in those eight games and his OPS from .681 to .749.

Those numbers still are well behind his totals from last year when he batted .221 with 37 homers, 86 RBIs, a slugging percentage of .483 and OPS of .806 in 534 at-bats.

In 91 games this year, over 300 at-bats, he is hitting .220 with 12 homers and 42 RBIs. He has an .803 OPS since the All-Star break.

The last three years, Reynolds finished fourth, sixth and fourth in the league in homers and he averaged 37.6 per year during those seasons. He will come up well short of that this year, but will the Orioles see this as just an off-year for him and want him back if the price is right?

Reynolds’ defense at first base has been decent and, at age 29, he is coming into the prime years of his career. If not Reynolds at first, then who? The Orioles could go with Chris Davis or Wilson Betemit or give Joe Mahoney a shot at that spot next season.

Reynolds has not had a good year. But there are enough games remaining for him to salvage a decent season and be an impact player for this team in some key games the rest of the way.

Will it be enough to get him a spot on the 2013 Orioles?

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