Of the players that the Yankees realistically had a chance of acquiring this August, Mark Reynolds made the most sense. Elvis Andrus and Jimmy Rollins were too pricey for a team that already had Derek Jeter, while Justin Morneau and Adam Dunn were expensive and redundant with Lyle Overbay‘s performance against right-handed pitching. The Yankees could use a left-handed bat with Travis Hafner on the disabled list, but more importantly, they needed a backup at third base and a right-handed first baseman. Mark Reynolds provides both of those, and best of all, he’s dirt cheap.
The Yankees didn’t have to give up anything for Reynolds, and they’ll only be paying him the pro-rated portion of the league minimum salary. Reynolds might not be Mark Teixeira with the bat, or Alex Rodriguez with the glove, but he’s certainly an improvement over Jayson Nix and Lyle Overbay (when facing left-handed pitching).
Reynolds has produced just a 93 wRC+ this season, however the right-hander remains a career 108 wRC+ hitter. We’ve had the privilege of seeing Reynolds in an Orioles uniform in 2011 and 2012. While he showed off a spectacular ability to swing and miss, he’s also extremely patient at the plate, and owns some substantial power when he makes contact. Though it’s only 83 plate appearances, Reynolds has destroyed the ball in Yankee Stadium, hitting for a .264/.349/.639 slash. While this looks promising, with what Yankee Stadium can do for some hitters, the dimensions of the park are usually more friendly to left-handed hitters.
One factor that may have caused Reynolds down season is the new home ballpark. Previously, the right-hander played in Arizona and Baltimore, both of which allow a good amount of right-handed home runs. Statcorner gives Camden Yards a 118 home run rate for righties this season, along with a 110 for Chase Field (100 being average). Progressive Field, on the other hand, earned just an 85 this year, and the results of this have given Reynolds a .314 park adjusted wOBA. Yankee Stadium’s 111 home run factor indicates that the ballpark should help the third baseman.
But even with a down season, Reynolds has shown signs of life in 2013. Through the first month of 2013, Reynolds posted an incredible wRC+ of 179. After that, the corner infielder fell apart, hosting just a .569 OPS with 101 strikeouts from May 1st to his release. Reynolds still remained productive against left-handed pitchers, posting a 111 wRC+ in 2013, as well as a strong 14.3 BB% and decent .196 ISO.
Reynolds won’t be the star factor necessary to make up for 8.5 games in the division or 6.0 games in the wild card, but as the last week has proven, these incremental upgrades can put this team back on the right track. Even if Reynolds helps the team win one extra game over the next month and a half, his price is well worth it, and Cashman deserves credit for a quality August acquisition.