The Baltimore Orioles have declined the $11.5 million club option for infielder Mark Reynolds. Baltimore made the playoffs this season for the first time since 1997 but could be looking for an upgrade at first base.
Reynolds struggled offensively and defensively for much of the 2012 season. Orioles manager Buck Showalter moved Reynolds to first base after his defensive struggles at the hot corner simply became too much to overcome. While Reynolds played solid defense after his move across the diamond, he still posted below-average offensive production for a first baseman.
Here are five potential first baseman who should interest the Baltimore Orioles:
Baltimore was rumored to have interest in LaRoche prior to the 2011 season. The Orioles instead signed Derrek Lee, and LaRoche joined the Washington Nationals. LaRoche had a career year offensively for the Nationals in 2012 and also won a Gold Glove for his play at first base. LaRoche would seemingly represent a significant upgrade, but Baltimore may not be willing to meet the price for the soon-to-be 33-year-old.
Tyler Moore hit 10 home runs in a backup role for the Nationals in 2012. Moore is presumed to be the heir apparent to LaRoche should the veteran depart as a free agent. If Washington re-signs LaRoche to a long-term deal, Moore could be placed on the trade block.
Nick Swisher is not a popular man among Baltimore fans after playing for the hated Yankees since 2008. Swisher is an outfielder by trade, but he has spent significant time at first base throughout his career. Swisher played 27 games at first for the Yankees in 2012. Baltimore would benefit greatly from Swisher's career .361 on-base percentage.
The White Sox declined a club option on Youkilis earlier this week, making the veteran a free agent. Youkilis had a rough year in 2012 as he battled injuries, struggled at the plate, and was dealt from Boston to Chicago. Youkilis posted a career low .745 OPS in 2012 but his .384 career OBP would provide a big boost to the Orioles' offense. Baltimore will need to determine if 2012 was just a down year for Youkilis or the beginning of a steady decline.
The Orioles could decide to bring back Reynolds after sorting through the other options. Reynolds is a popular player with his teammates as well as the Baltimore fans. He handled the move to first base flawlessly and at 29 is younger than most free-agent options.
*Information gathered from http://www.baseball-reference.com.