1:12pm: Byrd has revealed to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he has a small, four-team no-trade clause which includes the Mariners, Royals, Blue Jays and Rays.
While that news doesn’t do any favors for Seattle’s chances of acquiring Byrd should their interest escalate, it doesn’t rule the possibility out entirely. Byrd explains to Salisbury that he signed a two-year deal with the Phillies for a reason — to retire in Philadelphia — but he would consider waiving his no-trade protection if the team asked him to do so for the future good of the club: “There would have to be a conversation with me, my agent and Ruben (Amaro Jr., the Phillies’ GM) if it gets to that point,” said Byrd.
Byrd adds that he included Toronto and Tampa on his list because of the artificial turf and the risk that poses to him as an aging player (especially one with a vesting option based on plate appearances). As for Seattle and Kansas City, he told Salisbury: “Those really are things that were just put on at the time being.”
The connection is logical for the Mariners in many ways. Firstly, their outfielders have hit a combined .246/.291/.354 this season — good for the second-worst wRC+ mark in all of baseball. Seattle outfielders have hit just 16 homers this season — a collective total that ranks lower than every team in baseball, aside from the Royals and Red Sox (who had 14 each). Beyond that, just four of the Mariners’ 13 hitters are right-handed, with struggling catcher Mike Zunino and struggling DH/outfielder Corey Hart representing the team’s only right-handed power threats. The other two, backup catcher Jesus Sucre and utilityman Willie Bloomquist, are light hitters that don’t see regular at-bats. As such, Seattle has been one of baseball’s worst clubs against left-handed pitching, hitting just .248/.295/.349 as a team.
Byrd is in the first season of a two-year, $16MM contract signed with the Phillies this past offseason. While the commitment raised some eyebrows, Byrd has followed up an unexpectedly excellent season with the Mets and Pirates with a solid campaign in his return to Philadelphia. He’s hitting .261/.313/.481 with 18 homers and passable defense in right field (Ultimate Zone Rating feels he’s slightly below average, while Defensive Runs Saved thinks he’s been slightly above). Perhaps more importantly to Seattle, he’s mashing lefties to the tune of a .313/.353/.613 batting line, which would give the team some much-needed thump against opposing southpaws.
The main deterrent for teams interested in Byrd may be his contract. He’s owed a perfectly reasonable $3.5MM through season’s end before being guaranteed $8MM in 2015. That may not scare off potential suitors, but his deal also contains an $8MM club option for 2016 — Byrd’s age-38 season — which will automatically vests with 600 PA in 2015 or a combined 1100 PA from 2014-15. That’s a very attainable number, and other teams may be skeptical that Byrd can maintain solid production into his late 30s.