Mark Reynolds committed two errors yesterday to increase his season total to a franchise-record 26 errors at third base and he’s only started 111 games there, which has Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun expecting the Orioles to move him across the diamond to first base next season.
Reynolds had been playing mostly first base recently before moving back to third base yesterday, but his hitting will be a whole lot less impressive if compared to first basemen full time.
This season the average AL first baseman is hitting .271 with a .790 OPS while the average third baseman is hitting .244 with a .695 OPS. Reynolds is hitting .221 with a .797 OPS, so he’s been almost exactly average for a first baseman and 100 points above average for a third baseman. That’s a huge difference and sticking at third base would allow the Orioles to potentially get another big bat in the lineup at first base.
Of course, the potential offense lost by shifting Reynolds to first base might be worth the defensive gains. And not just because of his high error total. Ultimate Zone Rating, which takes into account all plays defensively rather than just the obvious miscues covered by errors, pegs Reynolds as 21.5 runs below average at third base this season and 10.2 runs below average per 150 games there for his career.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.