CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians entered the offseason searching for a right-handed power hitter to bolster their lineup. After striking out at last week’s winter meetings, they may have finally connected.
A person familiar with the negotiations said Sunday night the Indians have agreed to a one-year contract with free-agent slugger Mark Reynolds. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal is pending a physical.
Reynolds would likely take over at first base for Cleveland, but he also could be used as the designated hitter.
Reynolds, who hit 23 homers last season for Baltimore, would definitely bring immediate pop to the Indians. Last season, Carlos Santana led the club with 18 homers. The Indians have needed a righty batter to balance out their heavily lefty lineup.
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti spoke with Reynolds‘ agent at the winter meetings last week in Nashville, Tenn. The club also showed interest in Kevin Youkilis, who is weighing an offer from the New York Yankees. The Indians reportedly wooed Youkilis with a two-year package, and new manager Terry Francona personally reached out to one of his former players, hoping to bring him to Cleveland.
The Indians also have pursued free-agent outfielder Nick Swisher, who has drawn interest from several teams.
Cleveland made a four-year offer to Shane Victorino last week, but he signed a three-year deal with Boston.
Youkilis may still be in play for the Indians, but they at least have a backup plan in place with Reynolds, who made 105 starts at first last season. He began the season at third, but was moved across the infield after 15 shaky starts.
The 28-year-old Reynolds batted .221 with 69 RBIs in 135 games for the Orioles. Although he strikes out too much — he fanned 159 times in 457 at-bats last season — he has 181 career homers in six seasons in the majors. Reynolds played four seasons with Arizona before he was traded to Baltimore in 2010.
Reynolds has struck out more than 200 times in three different seasons.
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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