The Milwaukee Brewers have signed veteran Mark Reynolds to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training, adding another power hitter to the mix at first base.
Reynolds finished 2013 with the New York Yankees after being designated for assignment by Cleveland in early August despite leading the team in home runs at the time. He finished with a .220 batting average to go along with 21 home runs, 67 RBI and 154 strikeouts in 504 plate appearances.
The 30-year-old has always posted big power numbers to go along with high strikeout totals. Reynolds has averaged 33 home runs per 162 games over his seven-year career, hitting 44 for Arizona in 2009. But Reynolds also set the single-season strikeout record that season, fanning 223 times in 578 at-bats.
Reynolds will give the Brewers a right-handed slugging option at first base, as current in-house options Juan Francisco and Hunter Morris are both left-handed. Francisco and Reynolds both have the ability to hit a lot of home runs but also strike out at an alarming rate.
Originally drafted by Arizona out of the University of Virginia in 2004, Reynolds spent four seasons with the Diamondbacks before being traded to Baltimore after the 2010 season in which he hit just .185 but had 32 home runs and 85 RBI.
Reynolds had his option declined after two seasons and 60 home runs with the Orioles and signed as a free agent with Cleveland. He started last season on a tear, hitting .301 with eight home runs in April but hit .187 in the rest of his stint with the team. The Indians designated him for assignment on Aug. 8 despite his team-leading 15 home runs.
The Yankees scooped him up and played Reynolds at first base, second base and third base for the remainder of the season. Reynolds was not a great defender at his natural position of third base, but has made only 20 errors (.990 fielding percentage) in 251 career games at first base.
At the very least, Reynolds will provide competition during spring training, but does have a good shot to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster. The Brewers know exactly what they are going to get out of him, and Reynolds could post big power numbers if given a full season at Miller Park.
Because this is a minor league deal, Milwaukee is still the only team in baseball that hasn’t added a player on a major league contract this offseason.
Reynolds is a career .233 hitter with 202 home runs, 568 RBI and 1,276 strikeouts in 3,947 plate appearances over 988 games.
Signings: The Milwaukee Brewers avoided arbitration with first baseman/third baseman Francisco and right-hander Marco Estrada by agreeing to one-year contracts with the pair.
Teams had until Friday at noon CST to exchange figures with arbitration eligible players, and the Brewers just beat the deadline with Francisco and Estrada. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Francisco signed for $1.35 million and Estrada for $3.325 million.
Estrada, 30, will make significantly more than he did a year ago when he earned $1.96 million in his first year of arbitration. The right-hander went 7-4 with a 3.87 ERA in 21 starts for the Brewers in 2013, rebounding for a strong finish after hamstring and back injuries sidelined him for over two months in the middle of the season.
Acquired by the Brewers in a trade with the Braves last June, Francisco hit .221 with 13 home runs and 32 RBI in 89 games with the Brewers and .227 with 18 home runs and 48 RBI for the season.
Francisco, 26, was arbitration eligible for the first time as a "Super 2", a player within the top 22 percent of players with two to three years of service time.