February 22, 2010

The Diamondbacks have offered a variety of contracts at various lengths to Mark Reynolds in hopes of locking up their star third baseman, who is eligible for arbitration starting next year. The sides have agreed to negotiate up until Opening Day, when talks will be called off if there's no multiyear deal.

The Diamondbacks can name his salary for 2010 but Reynolds will be arbitration-eligible before the 2011 season, by which time he could have the most home runs of any first-time arbitration eligible player. A couple of competing executives said they view Brewers star Prince Fielderas a comparable player while one other executive suggested Dan Uggla as a comp but acknowledged that Reynolds is by far the better all-around player. Uggla made $13.2 million over his first two arbitration years, while Fielder received $18 million in his first two. Fielder is a more consistent run producer than Reynolds with a glossier resume that includes more All-Star appearances and MVP votes, but Reynolds is a more versatile and better fielder (he can play first as well as third) who has more speed.

If Reynolds hits 25 home runs he will carry the same number of home runs into arbitration next year as Fielder, and if he hits 35 home runs he will tie the output Ryan Howard had when he went into arbitration for the first time.

The cost-conscious Diamondbacks aren't viewed as a team that typically breaks the bank so competing execs would be surprised if the D-backs got into the Fielder ballpark. Both sides have declined to discuss what the D-backs have offered but they are believed to have presented a number of scenarios involving two, three or four year deals. The complex offers also include option years and possible buyouts.

"Yes, we are in talks, we have an agreement to talk until Opening Day and Mark and the club have agreed there won't be any negotiation during the season," agent Jeff Borris said.

Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes declined comment.

Reynolds fell just short of arbitration so Arizona isn't under any obligation to provide a big raise from the $427,000 he made in 2009, when he set career highs with 44 home runs and 102 RBIs.

"This guy is becoming the face of the franchise," Borris said. "I think we've just seen the tip of the iceberg as compared to what this guy is capable of."

Arizona is also talking to All-Star outfielder Justin Upton about a potential long-term contract.

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