After free agent acquisition Ian Desmond broke his left hand in Spring Training, Mark Reynolds exceeded expectations as the Colorado Rockies‘ starting first baseman in 2017.
A one-year, minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. That’s what Rockies first baseman Mark Reynolds accepted over the 2016-2017 offseason.
After slashing .282/.356/.450 with just 14 home runs and 53 RBI in 118 games in his first season with the Rockies, his options to return to Colorado looked bleak when news broke that the Rockies had signed former All-Star shortstop and outfielder Ian Desmond to a five-year, $70 million deal to be the team’s starting first baseman.
Reynolds entered Cactus League 2017 play fully expecting to be fighting for a big league roster spot until Desmond was hit by a pitch on his left hand just over two weeks into Spring Training.
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The diagnosis was a left hand fracture. He would be out for at least a month.
Reynolds seized the opportunity and made the Opening Day roster as the Rockies’ starting first baseman, going 2-for-3 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored in the season-opening win at the Milwaukee Brewers.
That game set the tone for how Reynolds would play the rest of the season.
Reynolds would go on to be an anchor at first base during a renaissance 2017 season for the Rockies, forcing Desmond to split time at first base and the outfield when he returned from injury.
In the first half of the season, Reynolds hit .284/.379/.513 with 19 home runs and 61 RBI, and was an All-Star Final Vote win away from making his first career All-Star team.
He wasn’t a one-dimensional player, though. Reynolds committed just six errors all season for a final .996 fielding percentage over 1173.0 innings, as well as regularly making incredible defensive plays.
Reynolds may not be back for the 2018 season, with Desmond in the second of his five-year contract and top prospects like Ryan McMahon itching to get their first taste of extended big league action. If he isn’t, Rockies fans will remember him as one of the key players in leading Colorado to its first playoff berth in eight years.
And it all happened because of a one-year, minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.