D-backs deal Reynolds for bullpen help
Arizona trades oft-whiffing slugger for pair of Orioles relievers
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Improving the bullpen and cutting down on the team's record-breaking strikeout total were two goals that Kevin Towers laid out when he took over as Arizona Diamondbacks general manager in September.
On Monday, the first day of the Winter Meetings, Towers made a move that he hopes will lead to reaching both when he dealt slugging third baseman Mark Reynolds to the Orioles in exchange for right-handed pitchers David Hernandez and Kameron Mickolio.
The D-backs will also include either cash or a player to be named later in the transaction.
Reynolds, who was drafted in the 16th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, has prodigious power, having hit 44 homers in 2009 and 32 last season. However, he also has racked up strikeouts at a record rate. From 2008-10, he struck out 204, 223 and 211 times, respectively.
REYNOLDS TO BALTIMORE
|The Seattle Mariners deserve credit for a nice scouting find with the selection of Mickolio in the 18th round of the 2006 Draft. The 6-foot-9 product of Utah Valley State reached Triple-A in his first full season, finishing with a 2.68 ERA, better than a strikeout per inning and a .219 batting average against.|
|It was enough get the attention of the Baltimore Orioles, who got Mickolio as part of the Erik Bedard trade before the 2008 season. He got his first taste of the big leagues that year, appearing in nine games out of the O's bullpen and 11 more in 2009. In the Minors, he kept racking up strikeouts, even with injury issues -- including a strained groin -- keeping him off the mound at times. In his Minor League career, Mickolio has struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings. In his brief big league stints, he's struck out 9.4 per nine.|
|He has also walked 3.7 batters per nine innings in the Minors (and 5.0 in the big leagues), and that's where his issues have arisen, though he was much better during his stint in the Arizona Fall League, which recently concluded. Mickolio is a sinker/slider guy who was clocked up to 96 mph with his sinking fastball in the AFL. With his size, he gets a good downward angle and his sinker can be very heavy (He induced 1.91 groundouts per flyout in the Minors in 2010).|
|He doesn't always command his fastball well, not getting down in the zone consistently. At the same time, he doesn't always throw his slider consistently well. The quality of his breaking ball comes and goes, and when he doesn't have a feel for it, he becomes a one-pitch pitcher.|
|-- Jonathan Mayo|
"A lot of people ask how could you move 30-plus home runs, 40-plus home runs a few years ago," Towers said. "He was a great defender, very popular player with our fan base, and for us to take the leaps forward that we felt we needed to do, to strengthen the 'pen, we felt this was a tremendous start."
Hernandez, 25, is a hard thrower whom the D-backs see as being a late-inning pitcher. He opened the 2010 season in the rotation, but was moved to the bullpen and compiled a 3.13 ERA as a reliever.
The D-backs had long had interest in Hernandez. Former GM Josh Byrnes had tried to acquire him, and interim-GM Jerry Dipoto did likewise prior to last year's Trade Deadline.
"I like power arms," Towers said. "As I said, we had him up to 98 [mph]. He's got two dominant pitches. Our reports say that he's got riding life, he's got spike in velocity and heavy sink when it's down in the zone, and he's got the type of fastball that he can pitch above the belt because of the added velocity.
"He's got a power curveball. I like guys that pound the strike zone. [He] doesn't seem to have fear, goes right after good hitters. He's pitched against a very, very competitive AL East. Not to put the NL West down, but he's faced good hitters.
"We feel there's tremendous upside in this individual, and we have not seen the tip of the iceberg yet. We feel that he can develop at some point in time into a quality late-inning guy."
Mickolio, 26, was acquired by the Orioles in the trade that sent Erik Bedard to Seattle. He appeared in three games for the O's last season and had a 7.36 ERA. At 6-foot-9, the challenge for Mickolio is repeating his mechanics, and the struggle with that has led him to post high walk totals.
At Triple-A Norfolk, Mickolio went 4-3 with a 6.37 ERA in 30 appearances, and the D-backs got a good look at him in the Arizona Fall League the past couple of months.
"Big delivery in size, arm strength, downward angle," Towers said. "Can't get more downward plane than a 6-foot-9 pitcher."
The D-backs made no secret of their openness to deal Reynolds, who is set to receive a raise from $500,000 to $5 million as part of a contract extension that Byrnes signed him to last spring. Reynolds' deal is for $7.5 million in 2012, with a club option for $11 million in 2013.
The money freed up in the deal will help the D-backs continue to improve the bullpen in the form of J.J. Putz, who agreed to a two-year deal with a club option for 2013 on Monday night.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.