"Obviously, I'm new to this process, but I could kind of see it coming," Reynolds said of the news, which came at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET from Dan Duquette, executive vice president of baseball operations. "It is what it is, and [you] move on. I'm excited to get out there and see what's out there for me.
"I wish [becoming a free agent] was under better circumstances, but I feel like I have value, and I think other teams feel that way. I've learned that this is a business from this. So I'm just going to get out there and see what else is out there."
Amid a thin free-agent class of first basemen, Reynolds -- who would have made around $9 million in arbitration -- was willing to return, but not at a significantly reduced salary. He made $7.5 million last season, recovering from a poor first half to post a .221 batting average with a .335 on-base percentage and a .429 slugging percentage, collecting 23 homers and 69 RBIs in 135 games.
Sixteen of Reynolds' homers came in the final two months of the season after he got past the most prolonged slump of his career. Through his first 85 games, he hit .211 with eight homers and 33 RBIs and struck out 104 times. He did draw walks throughout the season, leading the team in free passes for a second straight year, with 73, and he helped the Orioles reach their first postseason in 15 years by hitting 15 homers and posting a .517 slugging percentage in his final 50 games.
"Baltimore was my first choice," he said, "having a lot of ties to Baltimore and the city and a lot of good friends on the team. My family likes it there, I liked it there. ... I'm going to miss it.
"I enjoyed my two years there. It was definitely fun playing in the American League East and playing on those big stages every night, to make the playoffs this year and see what Camden is like, that place was rocking. I had a great time. They've got great passionate fans about baseball."
"Hopefully, they can continue to win and be successful. I wish the best for them. I wish the best for [manager Buck Showalter] and all the guys. I hope they can continue to do their thing. The only time I'm going to wish against them is when I'm playing them.
"I definitely want to get back to my career-normal 30-plus homers and 80 to 90 RBIs -- obviously, I want to do that. The motivation is not to prove the Orioles wrong, it's just my personal goals [and] being able to play to my capabilities."
A well-liked player in the clubhouse, Reynolds played through numerous injuries during the season. He was hit by a pitch six times during the regular season and twice in six postseason games. Health was a question to everyone but Reynolds, who deflected any notion that he might need to miss time.
Reynolds was acquired from the D-backs on Dec. 6, 2010, in exchange for right-handers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio. At the time he was seen as the organization's solution for its third-base vacancy.
Although he led the 2011 Orioles in home runs (37), RBIs (86), runs scored (84), walks (75) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.806), he struck out an American League-leading 196 times and committed 31 errors, the third most in a single season in O's history.
After starting the 2012 season at third base, Reynolds -- who committed six errors in 40 chances -- was moved across the diamond and worked hard to turn himself into an above-average first baseman. Frequently taking some good-natured ribbing for his tendency to never stay on his feet, he became adept at picking balls in the dirt and making excellent scoops, resulting in a .995 fielding percentage in 108 games at the position.
Reynolds posted a .221/.328/.458 line in 290 career games with the Orioles, and although it's unlikely he will re-sign as a free agent, it's not out of the realm of possibility. Because he has an offseason home in Arizona, he could sign with a club that allows him to live at home during Spring Training, or perhaps return to the National League.
"It's not a must, but it would be nice to be home for an extra two months," he said. "I'm going to go where I can have the best chance of playing and to win."
Could that still be Baltimore?
"Dan pretty much said [that] the light is still on here, and we will see where things go, see what my value in the market is," he said. "I wouldn't rule it out, definitely not."
The Orioles also non-tendered second baseman Omar Quintanilla and right-hander Stu Pomeranz.
The Orioles did agree to terms for 2013 with Alexi Casilla, Steve Pearce and Taylor Teagarden, thus avoiding arbitration with the trio. Other players offered a contract are Jim Johnson, Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, Jason Hammel, Troy Patton, Darren O'Day, Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter and Nolan Reimold. The club can try to negotiate a deal with each, and if the two sides can't agree on a figure, they will go to a hearing with an independent arbitrator in February or March.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.