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Yankees 2017 Potential Free Agent Target: Mark Reynolds

The former Yankee showed signs of improvement at the plate last year. Would a reunion help the Bombers offensively?

Arizona Diamondbacks v Colorado Rockies Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Mark Reynolds was a part of the Yankees’ Band-Aid roster in 2013, as Joe Girardi frantically plugged holes in a lineup that would not stop leaking with injuries. Reynolds appeared in just 36 games for the Yanks that season before moving on to the Brewers in 2014, keeping up with his journeyman identity.

The infielder was nothing special for the Yanks in 2013, providing the occasional home run in between a flurry of strikeouts. Reynolds has been notorious for his all-or-nothing approach at the plate for most of his career, but believe it or not, he actually showed improvement in the contact department last season.

2016 Statistics: 118 G, 441 PA, .282/.356/.450, 14 HR, 53 RBI, 99 wRC+

Age on Opening Day 2017: 33

Position: Infield

Reynolds’ .282 batting average in 2016 was the highest of his career, as was his .356 OBP. After an abysmal 2014 campaign which saw him post a .196 batting average over 130 games with the Brewers, Reynolds has been slowly improving his approach at the plate and eliminating some of the many holes in his swing.

Yes, 112 strikeouts is still a lot, but it is also the lowest mark of his career, as was his strikeout percentage (25.4%). Nonetheless, the improvement in hitting for contact and reaching base over the past two years is encouraging. Reynolds signed a one-year deal with the Rockies last December for $2.6 million, an affordable price for a player who can be brought aboard for one year of service again this season.

The Yankees are looking for temporary solutions right now in order to keep themselves on the border of competitive while they continue their rebuild. One-year deals for serviceable players fit their current game plan, much like the acquisition of Matt Holliday. Reynolds would not be the same offensive boost as Holliday of course, but he might add some pop to a team that may find themselves starved for home runs.

Reynolds’ slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+ in 2016 were his highest marks in those categories since 2011, when Reynolds hit 37 home runs with the Orioles. If Reynolds was still an all-or-nothing kind of player batting below .230, he could be glanced over. However, his increased ability to get on base along with some remaining pop in his bat gives him some possible upside.

As with any hitter from Colorado though, the most important question is whether or not Reynolds’ 2016 numbers were an illusion caused by the hitter’s paradise of Coors Field. He hit .310/.383/.497 in 59 home games and .255/.329/.403 in 59 games on the road, still a slight improvement from his overall 2015 numbers (.230/.315/.398). Unfortunately, the change in plate discipline is not as apparent in the road stats, as his away strikeout rate of 27.9% was almost identical to the 28% total mark in 2015. Yankee Stadium is a great place to hit too, but the Coors Effect is a factor regardless.

In addition to the bat, Reynolds has the ability to fill in at first base for Greg Bird, who is coming off of major surgery. He’s far from Mark Teixeira in the field, but he has much more experience there than Holliday, who only has 10 career games at first. Sure, Tyler Austin is an option to fill in as well, but if Girardi is looking for a likely superior power threat, Reynolds could be that man.

Although signing Holliday probably filled any possible spot for Reynolds on the roster, he remains an intriguing bench candidate. At 33 years old, a sudden physical decline is not a major concern for a one-year commitment, if the Yankees decide to go that route. The Giants have recently expressed interest in the free agent, so should the Yankees follow suit?