Mark Reynolds and the Arizona Diamondbacks looked like the perfect match last season, when Reynolds finished fourth in the National League with 44 home runs. He also led the league in strikeouts for a second consecutive season, but the Diamondbacks seemed unfazed by that: Reynolds seemed to do everything else well at the plate, getting on base with lots of walks and stealing enough bases (24) to lead the league in power-speed number for the season.

Arizona eagerly signed Reynolds to a three-year extension worth $13.5 million with a fourth-year club option. The deal bought out Reynolds’ final pre-arbitration season at a rate of slightly under $1 million, then promised to pay him handsomely for 2011-12.

The contract now looks like a colossal mistake, or at least that is how the Diamondbacks themselves see it. Reynolds fell short of the Mendoza line in 2010, hitting a meager .198/.320/.433. He struck out in over 40 percent of his at-bats. He had an awful .257 batting average on balls in play, roughly 65 points off his career BABIP of .323.

Reynolds ended up swatting 32 home runs but also led the league in strikeouts for the third straight season–and it was only his third full MLB season. Reynolds’ name has red flags next to it in front offices around the league.

That’s why it is the perfect time for Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry to make Arizona GM Kevin Towers an offer. The Cubs enter the off-season knowing they need a corner infielder to fill out their lineup for next season. Towers, meanwhile, has promised to move some of the more whiff-prone members of a lineup that struck out 150 more times than any other team in baseball last season.

If the Cubs dedicate themselves to finding a solid pitcher (reliever Kerry Wood and starter Jorge de la Rosa are two good fits) on the free agent market, Hendry could go to Towers with an offer of (for instance) Jeff Baker and Randy Wells for Reynolds. Wells would be made expendable by the acquisition of the aforesaid pitcher, while Baker looks to be on the outside of the team’s infield picture given the late-season emergence of Darwin Barney and Bobby Scales.

Reynolds would bat either third or sixth in a reasonable Cubs lineup next season, starting at third base and pushing defensively untenable Aramis Ramirez across the diamond to first. One huge positive this season won the substantial improvement in Reynolds’ glove work at the hot corner, which adds to his underrated value.

If the guidance of brilliant hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo can help Reynolds do more on balls in play and perhaps even help him strike out less, the Arizona third baseman could add much-needed punch to the Cubs’ lineup in 2011.

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