The Orioles impressive season ended with an ALDS Game Five loss to the Yankees yesterday, but the team improved so much that a pair of impending free agents told MLB.com's Adam Rosenbloom that they would like to return to the club next year.
"I'd definitely like to come back," said Mark Reynolds. "This is the most fun I've ever had playing baseball, this group of guys. There's a bunch of ballplayers in this room. No prima donnas, nobody for themselves. Just ballplayers who pull for each other, and who wouldn't want to be in that environment?"
The 29-year-old Reynolds hit .221/.335/.429 with 23 homers in 538 plate appearances this year, making the transition from third base over to first base full-time. The club holds an $11MM option for his services next year, but even if they decline it they would still control his rights as an arbitration-eligible player. Baltimore could turn down the option and try to re-sign him at a lower salary without having to worry about a bidding war on the open market.
Nate McLouth, 30, also indicated a willingness to return to the Orioles next season, telling Rosenbloom that he "couldn't have had a better time in the time" with the team. He signed a minor league contract with Baltimore at midseason before taking over their left field and leadoff hitter jobs full-time in the second half. McLouth was their best hitter in the ALDS and produced a .268/.342/.435 batting line 236 regular season plate appearances with the team.
With Nick Markakis and Nolan Reimold expected to be healthy in time for next season, plus 33-homer guy Chris Davis' ability to play first base or right field, the Orioles may not have spots for Reynolds and/or McLouth next year. McLouth in particular figures to look to parlay his strong finish into a full-time job somewhere.