Marlon Byrd Rumors

Rosenthal’s Latest: Market, Phillies, Byrd, Toussaint

As we continue to read the tea leaves on the coming trade market, here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

  • With the Reds and Athletics playing winning baseball of late, the trade market is “tightening,” Rosenthal tweets. “No one is available, really,” a GM tells him. That jives with comments earlier today from Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who noted that very few clubs are truly out of the race at this juncture. Of course, much can change in a matter of weeks.
  • Nobody would suggest that the Phillies are anything but sellers, but the club seems to be in something of a “holding pattern” in discussing transactions while it waits to finalize its reported front office moves, Rosenthal further reports on Twitter. That is understandable, given that Andy MacPhail is expected to be installed in a critical oversight role in short order. He’ll presumably desire a chance to evaluate the situation and have a role in any significant decisions.
  • Some in the game aren’t sure whether MacPhail is the right executive to bring the Phillies up to speed with the analytical developments in the game, Rosenthal writes. But Rosenthal says that he believes that the organization and MacPhail are well aware of the need to modernize and will make that a priority.
  • Reds outfielder Marlon Byrd may now be a more valuable trade piece because of his recent DL stint, Rosenthal notes. Byrd’s $8MM option would vest next year if he makes it to 550 plate appearances, but he’s racked up only 205 thus far. Of course, he’d still reach the mark if he stays in a lineup on an everyday basis.
  • Rosenthal adds one interesting note on the Braves‘ recent acquisition of Touki Toussaint from the Diamondbacks. Atlanta’s current director of baseball operations, Billy Ryan, was Arizona’s assistant GM at draft time last year, and actually was heavily involved in getting Toussaint to sign.

Marlon Byrd Suffers Fractured Wrist

JUNE 5: Manager Bryan Price told reporters prior to last night’s contest that Byrd will be in a soft cast for a week to 10 days and will be further evaluated once it is removed, per C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter).

JUNE 2: Reds left fielder Marlon Byrd exited Tuesday’s contest in the sixth inning after being hit by a pitch, and manager Bryan Price told reporters after the game that X-rays revealed a fracture in his right wrist (Twitter link via Mark Sheldon of Further updates on Byrd will likely be available tomorrow.

Acquired from the Phillies this winter in exchange for pitching prospect Ben Lively, Byrd got off to a dreadful start with the Reds. However, after slashing just .169/.188/.273 in the month of April, Byrd came to life in May, batting a hefty .244/.353/.581 with eight homers. That production put to rest concern among some Reds fans that the 37-year-old didn’t have anything left in the tank, and it also increased the likelihood that even if Cincinnati fell out of the NL Central race, they’d have a reasonably desirable trade chip.

The severity and exact location of the fracture aren’t known, so at this point it’s difficult to know precisely how Byrd’s injury will impact the Reds’ summer plans. Even if he is back in relatively short order, though, hand/wrist injuries can sap the power production of a player upon his return. And with a severe enough fracture, it’s possible that he could be sidelined into the month of August. That wouldn’t preclude a trade — if the Reds had intentions to trade Byrd at all, of course — but it would certainly complicate the process.

Furthermore, the injury may have significant financial implications for Byrd, whose two-year, $16MM contract contains a vesting/club option. That option, valued at $8MM, becomes guaranteed if Byrd totals 1100 plate appearances between the 2014 and 2015 seasons, so long as at least half of those plate appearances come in 2015. In other words, he needed 550 plate appearances this year to guarantee himself an additional $8MM. Presently, Byrd has 184 plate appearances, leaving him 366 shy of that additional guaranteed money.

2016 Vesting Options Update

Several notable players could see their 2016 statuses change depending on whether or not they unlock vesting options in their current contracts.  With the opening month of the 2015 season almost in the books, let’s check in on the progress each of these players are making towards those getting those options to vest…

  • Chase Utley: The veteran second baseman has a $15MM vesting option for 2016 that becomes guaranteed if he makes 500 plate appearances.  (If he doesn’t, it becomes a team option worth between $5MM-$11MM depending on how much time Utley spends on the DL, with a $2MM buyout.)  Utley has received 81 PA while playing in 21 of the Phillies’ first 22 games, so he is well on the way to having his option vest despite a very rough start — only a .398 OPS and two homers this season, thanks to an incredibly low .102 BABIP.  There is little chance the Phils would let Utley walk for nothing this winter, especially when they could obtain something for him in a trade this summer if Utley agrees to waive his no-trade clause.
  • Jonathan Papelbon: The Phillies closer’s 2016 vesting option is one of the reasons why he hasn’t yet been traded, as other teams have been wary about acquiring a reliever with such a potentially large price tag.  Papelbon’s $13MM vests if he finishes 55 games this season, or posts a combined 100 games finished between 2014-15.  The stopper finished 52 games last year and has seven finishes thus far in 2015, putting him on pace for that guaranteed salary next year.
  • David Ortiz: If Ortiz makes at least 425 PA and passes a physical after the season, Boston’s $10MM team option on his services for 2016 will become guaranteed at $11MM (or more, depending on how many plate appearances Ortiz makes).  Ortiz has only had less than 425 PA in two of the last 14 seasons, so barring any injury setbacks for Big Papi, this one seems like a safe bet to vest.
  • Joaquin Benoit: The Padres hold an $8MM team option on Benoit for 2016, but the righty can turn that into a guaranteed option if he finishes at least 55 games this season.  Benoit’s chances are pretty remote, as he was relegated to setup man duties after San Diego acquired Craig Kimbrel.
  • Marlon Byrd: His original two-year, $16MM deal with the Phillies included an $8MM club option for 2016 that becomes guaranteed if he reaches 600 PA this season, or a total of 1100 PA over 2014-15 with at least 550 PA this season.  Byrd received 637 PA last season and he has 74 PA over 20 games with the Reds in 2015.  He should continue to get regular playing time for Cincinnati though Byrd is off to a slow start — a .441 OPS with no walks and 24 strikeouts.
  • Santiago Casilla: The Giants righty signed a three-year, $15MM deal in the 2012-13 offseason that contained a vesting option, though little is known about the option’s value or specifics.
  • Nori Aoki: The Giants’ $5.5MM club option on Aoki for 2016 will become a mutual option if Aoki reaches 550 PA.  The outfielder is hitting well and his 102 PA currently leads the league, so he’s well ahead of the pace to vest his option.
  • Jonny Gomes: The Braves outfielder can guaranteed another year on his contract (at a $3MM salary) if he makes 325 PA, and he can unlock higher salaries at the 425 PA and 500 PA plateaus.  Gomes has thus far received 47 PA over 15 games, putting him in decent shape for at least the first level of his vesting option.

We already know that Cliff Lee won’t achieve the innings totals required for his 2016 option to vest.  The Phillies southpaw is attempting to recover from a torn left flexor tendon without undergoing surgery and is currently on the 60-day DL.  Dodgers reliever Brandon League is also recovering from a right shoulder injury and thus stands virtually no chance of reaching the games-finished totals required to allow his 2016 player option to vest.

Phillies Notes: Outfield, Pitching

The big story of the day is the trade of Marlon Byrd. We learned earlier this evening about reactions and the Reds side of the story. Here’s more on how the Phillies will adapt to life post-Byrd:

Reactions To The Marlon Byrd Trade

Earlier today, we witnessed what might be the last trade of 2014. The Phillies swapped outfielder Marlon Byrd and $4MM to the Reds for pitching prospect Ben Lively. Here’s the latest related to the move:

  • Trade talks were initiated during the GM Meetings in November, writes’s Mark Sheldon. GMs Walk Jocketty and Ruben Amaro continued to work closely on the deal over the last couple weeks. Philadelphia’s decision to include $4MM likely played a large role in netting a strong return.
  • Reds manager Bryan Price praised Byrd’s intangibles, reports Sheldon. According to Price, Byrd will fill a much needed role of run producer, but he can also help the club build a professional culture. Jocketty also acknowledged Byrd’s work ethic and leadership.
  • ESPN’s Keith Law likes the trade for Philadelphia. They continue the much needed mission of rebuilding, and the return is about as good as can be expected for Byrd. The Reds perspective is a lot harder to support. They’re walking a fine line between rebuilding and contending, but it seems like they’re getting the worst of both worlds. For what it’s worth, I suspect the Reds plan to re-sell Byrd at the trade deadline. If he’s not performing well enough to be traded, they can bench him to avoid the vesting option (which triggers in 550 plate appearances).
  • Jocketty says the Reds will focus on adding to the bullpen and bench, writes C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Byrd deal crosses left-fielder off the club’s to-do list. I would add rotation depth as another area of concern.

Reds Acquire Marlon Byrd

The Reds have announced that they’ve acquired Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd and cash from the Phillies for righty prospect Ben Lively. The Phillies will pay half of Byrd’s $8MM salary in 2015, and nothing on his $8MM club/vesting option for the following year.

USATSI_7979355_154513410_lowresEarlier this week, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reported that the Reds and Phillies had discussed a Byrd deal that ultimately didn’t take flight. It appears, however, that they finally found common ground. The Reds have traded Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon this offseason and have added few significant players of their own. An outfielder to add to Jay Bruce and Billy Hamilton was high on their shopping list, though, so it’s no surprise they’ve agreed to a trade for Byrd.

After an excellent 2013 campaign with the Mets and Pirates, Byrd kept hitting in 2014, batting .264/.312/.445 with 25 homers for Philadelphia. He’s average to above average defensively in a corner outfield spot, although he has mostly played right field recently and will be asked to play left in Cincinnati. Byrd had also frequently been connected to the Orioles this offseason.

Lively, 22, was the Reds’ fourth-round pick in 2013 out of the University of Central Florida, and he’s quickly made his way through the minors, spending 2014 with Class A+ Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola. Overall, he posted a 3.04 ERA with 10.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. ranks Lively as the Reds’ eighth-best prospect, noting that his stuff overwhelming but that he does have four good pitches and hides the ball well.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, who initially tweeted that the teams agreed to terms, als noted that the amount of money the Reds will receive was significant. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweeted immediately before the deal that the two sides could soon reach an agreement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Byrd Trade Between Phillies, Reds Fell Through

The Phillies are in clear rebuild mode, having dealt Jimmy Rollins and Antonio Bastardo this offseason, and they appear to have had a third trade in the works before it fell through. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Phillies and Reds were close to a trade that would’ve sent Marlon Byrd to Cincinnati before talks broke down (Twitter link). The other players in the trade are unclear at this point, though Morosi notes that the Reds and Phils could still re-work the deal.

The Reds have a known need for a left fielder, although it’s somewhat interesting that they’ve been pursuing upgrades via trade, considering the fact that they, too, have looked to be in the midst of a rebuild. The Reds have dealt Mat Latos to the Marlins and Alfredo Simon to the Tigers in a pair of trades aimed at the future. It’s possible that the Byrd trade talks took place before those moves, and the team has simply changed directions, but it’s also possible that they feel they can contend even after moving a pair of arms and weakening their rotation.

Even with the subtraction of Latos and Simon, the Reds could lean on a rotation consisting of Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Tony Cingrani in the first four slots. Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani and left-hander David Holmberg, acquired in trades over the past calendar year, are internal candidates to fill the fifth slot in the rotation.

Adding a player like Byrd, along with healthy rebounds from Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips and Bailey could go a long way toward helping the Reds return to contention in 2015. Byrd is owed $8MM in 2015 and has an $8MM vesting option for 2016 that will trigger if he reaches 550 plate appearances this coming season. Byrd, 37, batted a solid .264/.312/.445 with 25 homers and above-average defense in right field. Presumably, he’d shift to left field in Cincinnati, as Bruce has been a fixture in right field there since 2008. The Reds have also been linked to Michael Morse and Nori Aoki this offseason, though Morse is now off the market, having signed a two-year deal with Miami.

AL Notes: Cespedes, Mariners, Orioles, Howard

Trading Rick Porcello to the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier will likely cost the Tigers a draft pick, as’s Chris Iott explains. Porcello and Cespedes are both free agents after the 2015 season, but the Tigers will not be able to extend Cespedes a qualifying offer. Cespedes will only have four years of service time, and so in order for his team to meet the requirement that he be a free agent after the season, he’ll have to be non-tendered. Non-tendered players can’t be extended qualifying offers. There are no such restrictions on Porcello (or most other pending free agents) being extended qualifying offers. So unless Porcello has a poor season (or re-signs with the Red Sox), the most likely outcome of the deal is that the Red Sox will get a draft pick as a result, and the Tigers will not. Here’s more from the American League.

  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik thinks he’ll be able to add an extra outfielder or two this offseason, Shannon Drayer of 710AM ESPN tweets. “I feel confident we will get something done,” he says. “There may be more than one thing.” The Mariners have reportedly made Melky Cabrera a three-year offer, and they’ve also had serious trade talks with the White Sox about Dayan Viciedo. Justin Upton is another possibility.
  • Another team looking for an outfielder is the Orioles, who seem more likely to sign one than to trade for one, Roch Kubatko of writes. Delmon Young and Michael Morse are possibilities, and so is Cabrera, but only if he’s willing to settle for less than four or five years. The Orioles were also connected to Colby Rasmus last week. Kubatko notes that the O’s spoke to the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, but the Phillies offered a package that included Byrd and Ryan Howard. Howard, of course, is owed $60MM over the next two seasons, so taking on Howard’s contract just to get a good but not franchise-changing outfielder in Byrd would seem like a very tough sell for any team.

East Notes: Yankees: Byrd, Orioles

Now that David Robertson has agreed to terms with the White Sox, the Yankees should forget about traditional closer usage and instead use their best relievers situationally, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances don’t have significant track records as closers, but established free agent closers like Jason Grilli and Sergio Romo aren’t better pitchers than Miller or Betances. So if the Yankees sign someone like Grilli or Romo, they should treat them only as potential options to pitch in save situations, not as closers in the usual sense. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • Marlon Byrd is a good fit for the Orioles, but the Phillies shouldn’t give him up freely, Corey Seidman of writes. Byrd is a quality hitter on a reasonable and relatively short-term contract, so his age (37) should not be a major detriment. If the Phillies can’t get the right return for Byrd, they shouldn’t trade him, Seidman suggests. The two teams met to discuss Byrd yesterday.
  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter marvels at this offseason’s spending by Baltimore’s fellow AL East teams, Steve Melewski of writes. “They run out of money yet? God bless them, that’s the system. If we were in their shoes, we’d do the same thing,” says Showalter. “We just have to be good at some things that allow us to compete with them.” The Orioles have been relatively quiet this offseason while the Red Sox have spent heavily on Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, the Blue Jays on Russell Martin, and the Yankees on Andrew Miller.

Orioles, Phillies Discuss Possible Marlon Byrd Deal

The Orioles and Phillies met today in San Diego to discuss a possible Marlon Byrd deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. The veteran outfielder is under contract for $8MM in 2015 and comes with a $8MM club option for another season.

Byrd, a 37-year-old, right-handed-hitting corner outfielder, has long been rumored to be a trade piece for a rebuilding Phillies club. He slashed .264/.312/.445 with 25 home runs in 637 plate appearances last year after signing as a free agent with Philadelphia.

Baltimore, of course, is in the market for corner outfield options after seeing both Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis leave via free agency.