Does the Justin Upton Signing Adversely Impact Mark Reynolds Negotiations?

Jeff SummersCorrespondent IMarch 8, 2010

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 14:  National League All-Star Justin Upton of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats during the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

During the Arizona Diamondbacks FanFest at Chase Field last month, team officials discussed how they had begun conversations with the representatives of several of their core young players. Specifically, they named third baseman Mark Reynolds, catcher Miguel Montero, and outfielder Justin Upton.

Of the three it was assumed Reynolds would be the first to sign, with Upton being perhaps the hardest to sign to a long term contract due to his perceived value. It was therefore somewhat of a surprise when Upton was the first to agree to a long-term contract.

The deal was reportedly a six-year contract buying out all of Upton’s arbitration years plus two years of free agency. Given Upton’s meteoric rise and talent, it is my opinion this deal will look like a steal if he can remain healthy and progress as he has the past two seasons.

With Upton’s contract now completed, all of the focus has turned to Reynolds. Clearly all of the talk about his contract situation is beginning to wear on him. Each day when he reaches the ballpark he is asked by teammates, media members, and the fans what the status is of his contract.

The sound of his voice and his body language shows how much Reynolds is struggling with the questions and how much he wants to put this behind him. I have to wonder though, did the Upton contract help or hinder Reynolds?

It would be possible for Reynolds’ agent to make the case for a deal similar to the one Upton received. Looking back at the previous two years Reynolds has met or exceeded Upton in many offensive categories.

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If Reynolds were represented by Scott Boras, this argument would be accompanied by a multimedia presentation describing in detail how Reynolds is not only a peer of Upton but his superior in many ways.

You could point to the 44 home runs and the 102 runs batted in. You would of course discount any mention of the 200 plus strikeouts for each of the previous two seasons; a stance Reynolds seems to be adept at.

There are of course a couple of fallacies on this argument. For one, Upton is much younger than Reynolds, meaning he is likely entering his prime the next two seasons, whereas Upton will be reaching that peak after this six-year contract is completed.

The ceiling on Upton is much higher as an overall player versus Reynolds. Defensively, both are less than a Gold Glove standard, but they both are making headway cutting down on mental mistakes in the field that cost the team runs.

It is rumored the Diamondbacks are interested in signing Reynolds to a two-year contract in the $13 million range. The Reynolds camp is counter proposing a $18 million package. Obviously a six million dollar gap is relatively large so there is a lot of work to do.

Announcing the Upton signing with financial details could be a bargaining point to either the team or Reynolds. From a team perspective they will point to the financial commitment they made to Upton as a way to describe the financial constraint they are under as a mid-market team.

From Reynolds perspective, his agent will use it to establish a baseline value comparing his value to not only Upton but also to Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, a Scott Boras client.

While Reynolds wishes this contract distraction would just go away, expect to see this drama continue until either the gap between sides can be bridged or until Opening Day. Both the Diamondbacks and Reynolds do not want any negotiations going on during the season.

I can appreciate removing the distraction once the season starts, but I think both parties are naïve to assume the reporters will drop the subject once the season begins, especially if no contract has been agreed upon.


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