Marlon Byrd Rumors

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 MLive.com’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 MASNsports.com 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 CSNPhilly.com 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 MASNsports.com 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.



Phillies Notes: Lester, Hamels, Gillick

While the Phillies aren’t a part of the Jon Lester sweepstakes, they’re paying attention to the outcome, writes Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com. The best matches for Hamels appear to be the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Cubs, who just happen to be three of the four finalists for Lester. If he signs with the fourth team – the Giants – then the Phillies can maximize their leverage. Hamels has some advantages over the other options on the market. He’s under contract for four years, presumably at a lesser rate than Max Scherzer (he already turned down a contract nearly identical to Hamels’). Hamels is better than James Shields, and both Jeff Samardzija and Jordan Zimmermann are free agents after the season.

  • The Dodgers line up best to acquire Hamels, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Phillies covet outfield depth like Joc Pederson and the Dodgers are swimming in outfielders. The big budget club could also feature a dominant rotation with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hamels.
  • For his part, Hamels is conflicted about the trade rumors, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. On the one hand, he’s comfortable in Philadelphia. He also understands that the club is rebuilding, so he has a better chance to win elsewhere. Hamels does possess a no trade clause which includes the Red Sox. It’s speculated that he would waive the clause if the acquiring team picked up his 2019 option.
  • Pat Gillick discussed the club’s rebuilding process with reporters including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Gillick stressed the need to be patient and methodical. The club wants to get younger, but it can’t be done all at once. Each older piece needs to be converted into a meaningful, younger piece. There’s no point in gutting the roster simply to clean house. If the Phillies can’t acquire the right pieces for Hamels, Marlon Byrd or others, they’re liable to keep them. That said, Gillick admitted it would be disappointing if the club failed to make any changes before the season.
  • Amaro has three or four trades he could make today, but they don’t benefit the club, reports Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Amaro says he’s had many good conversations that could lead somewhere. The rumors that he’s asking too much in trade discussions are “malarkey.” Everybody is available, but certain guys like Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins will be hard to move do to 10-and-5 rights.

East Rumors: Masterson, Byrd, Red Sox

The latest from the AL and NL East..

  • The Red Sox have made an offer to Justin Masterson, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). The pitcher is also talking with the Rangers, Marlins, White Sox, Royals, Giants, Twins, and others.  Earlier today we learned that the Rangers have made an offer to Masterson, their first concrete bid for a free agent starter this winter.
  • If the Orioles look to the trade market for a bat, Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd is a name on their radar, sources tell Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told reporters, including Jason Mastrodonato of The Springfield Republican (via Twitter) that the team has targeted 15-20 starting pitchers via free agency and trade.  So far, they’ve had advanced conversations for a few of them.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro says reports of him asking for too much in trades are “a bunch of malarkey,” according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer (on Twitter).

West Notes: Kemp, Cabrera, Kendrick, Upton

With the Winter Meetings beginning in San Diego, this could be the week the Dodgers finally deal from their glut of outfielders, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The Dodgers would prefer to hang onto Matt Kemp, according to Shaikin, but Major League players are not being offered for either Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford.

Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports the Mariners were close to a deal for Kemp with Seattle paying roughly half of the $107 million remaining on his salary over the next five years, but things fell apart when the Dodgers insisted on the inclusion of either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton. In a second article, Dutton lists the Padres and the Orioles as the Mariners’ primary competition for Kemp, with Shaikin adding the Giants are a possibility, if they fail to sign Chase Headley. With Nelson Cruz now in Seattle, Dutton opines the Mariners’ interest in Kemp will depend on what other offers the Dodgers receive. Those other offers may not be to the Dodgers’ liking, as Shaikin notes the Braves (Justin Upton and Evan Gattis), Red Sox (Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig), and Phillies (Marlon Byrd) also have right-handed power bats available to trade.

Elsewhere in baseball’s West divisions:

  • Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says the constant rumors that come with running a major market team are “comical,” but he doesn’t necessarily mind it, writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. “Misinformation can be a powerful tool,” Friedman said.
  • The Mariners are reluctant to part with their young pitching to acquire an outfield bat, according to Dutton. “That’s a little bit of a dangerous road,” said GM Jack Zduriencik. “You look at our pitching staff, and when you analyze it, a couple of those young starters didn’t pitch a lot of innings last year.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets the Mariners are very serious about their pursuit of Melky Cabrera. Last week, it was reported the M’s are believed to be willing to offer something similar to the four-year, $57MM deal that they used to sign Cruz.
  • In a separate tweet, Rosenthal posits the Angels are reluctant to trade second baseman Howie Kendrick because of offensive concerns including uncertainity about Josh Hamilton, an unsettled DH situation, and no clear backup catcher.
  • Sources tell ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter) the Giants and Reds are great fits for Justin Upton, but neither match up well with the Braves and may need to involve a third team to swing a deal.
  • Olney also tweets the Astros continue to pursue closer David Robertson and his most lucrative offer might come from Houston.
  • Rockies GM Jeff Bridich tells Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post there has been interest in catcher Wilin Rosario, but Colorado “could very easily go into the season with Wilin.

NL East Notes: Desmond, Fish, Phils, Hamels, Braves, Medlen

The Nationals made Ian Desmond a seven-year, $107MM extension offer last year, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports, though that also included contract deferrals that would have reduced its true value. Negotiations are expected to pick back up in the months to come, per Kilgore, and that offer will presumably be the starting point. Desmond, who put up another strong year and is now one year away from the open market, is one key piece of the team’s increasingly pressing long-term strategic questions.

Here’s the latest out of the division:

  • The Marlins‘ interest in the starting pitching market is fairly diverse, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. Possible trade targets range from buy-low (Ubaldo Jimenez) to buy-high (Johnny Cueto), and interest on the free agent markets includes Kyle Kendrick and Ervin Santana. The unifying force here is probably the expected ability of these varying arms to provide innings; as I noted yesterday, the Fish hope to add a solid, veteran presence to their staff.
  • Spencer also spoke with the Miami brass about Giancarlo Stanton, and discusses the team’s reasoning for trying to build a winner around him now, even if an extension cannot ultimately be worked out. “We’re trying to get away from that, that we have to trade everybody because they get expensive,” Hill said. “Enough of that. We want to win. We want to keep as many of our pieces as we can.”
  • There are “a lot of good fits” for Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, who is likely to be traded, sources tell Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Philadelphia is seeing interest in Ben Revere as well.
  • Of course, the flashier chip for the Phils is lefty Cole Hamels. As Salisbury reports, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says “the free agent market will kind of dictate where this thing goes,” referring to the possibility of striking a deal. “[A]t some point the dominores will start to fall and then we’ll see where it takes us,” said Amaro, who notes that there is no need to deal Hamels since he “traverses the timeline” of contention that the club has in mind.
  • Hamels would prefer to be dealt, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Nightengale provides additional teams to which Hamels cannot decline a trade (on top of the previously-reported Cubs): the Yankees and Rangers are the two A.L. clubs, with the Dodgers, Nationals, Cardinals, Braves, and Padres among the National League teams.
  • The Braves increasingly sound inclined to aim for the near future, and we’ve already heard several prominent names listed as possible trade candidates. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman provides two more, via Twitter: reliever Jordan Walden (who projects to earn $3MM in arbitration) and young second baseman Tommy La Stella.
  • Braves president of baseball operations John Hart says the sides will “need to get creative” to work out a deal to keep Kris Medlen, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. While the team has every hope of keeping the righty, his second Tommy John procedure and $5.8MM projected arb price tag do not make for a straightforward situation given the team’s tight payroll. Sherman suggests that a significantly lower guarantee, combined with incentives and a 2016 option, could be palatable for both sides. It seems that Medlen would be able to do better, however, were he to force the Braves’ hand: he would either be tendered a contract, or hit the open market with plenty of suitors given his upside.

NL East Notes: Mets, Braves, Zimmermann

The Mets and Mariners could be trade partners on a deal that would send a young shortstop to Citi Field, multiple sources tell ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin.  Seattle has a pair of young middle infield options in Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, and both could be expendable should the M’s acquire a more proven veteran to play shortstop — for instance, the Mariners reportedly have a strong interest in Hanley Ramirez.  Here’s some more from around the NL East…

  • David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter links) would “be surprised” if the Braves don’t trade Evan Gattis or an outfielder in exchange for “a good/very good young starting pitcher in the next several weeks.”  The Braves are known to be looking to add pitching given Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy‘s injury situations and the fact that Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang are free agents.
  • Despite recent rumors, it is very unlikely that the Nationals would trade Jordan Zimmermann, CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman writes.  Nats GM Mike Rizzo would need a massive offer to even consider moving Zimmermann, as while the righty is only under contract for one more season, losing him would be a blow to a Nats team that wants to win a World Series in 2015.
  • Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley have consistently said they want to remain lifetime Phillies and aren’t willing to waive their 10-and-5 rights to accommodate a trade, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.  Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has spoken to both players about the club’s rebuilding plans, and Lawrence wonders if either Rollins or Utley would be more open being dealt now that the Phils are openly planning for the future.
  • Also from Lawrence, he lists the Reds, Cardinals and Tigers atop a list of 15 teams who he sees as possible trade fits for the PhilliesMarlon Byrd.  Last week, we heard that Byrd was drawing a lot of interest on the trade market.

Phillies Notes: Byrd, Howard, Tomas, Rollins

They’re trying to blow the whole thing up.  Everyone is for sale,” a rival executive tells CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury about the Phillies’ offseason plans.  The Phils will listen to offers on any player, though Cole Hamels and Ken Giles would require the most in return.  The rival exec wasn’t sure if the Phillies would find that desired price for Hamels, though he predicted that Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd would be moved this offseason.  “Detroit and Cincinnati are two teams to watch on Byrd,” Salisbury writes.

Here’s some more from the City of Brotherly Love…

  • The Royals have had internal discussions about acquiring Howard if the Phillies cover most of the $60MM remaining on Howard’s contract, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports.  Kansas City sees Howard as a possible replacement for Billy Butler at the DH spot.  UPDATE: The Royals’ interest in Howard is overblown, a source tells Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
  • The Phillies haven’t yet made an offer to Yasmany Tomas, agent Jay Alou told reports (including Salisbury).  Alou said that he and GM Ruben Amaro spoke today and negotiations are ongoing between the two sides.  Alou cited the Phils as one of “several teams that I could say are frontrunners” for Tomas, and noted that the Phillies had seen the outfielder work out a second time since his private workout for the club in September.
  • Amaro hasn’t spoken to Jimmy Rollins about the shortstop waiving his 10-and-5 rights to facilitate a trade to another team, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports.  “If it is ever the right time, I will have the conversation, but Jimmy will be the one who decides where he is going,” Amaro said.
  • A trade of Domonic Brown for Jeremy Hellickson would make sense for both the Phillies and Rays, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News opines.  Lawrence makes it clear that he is just engaging in idle speculation about this proposed deal, as there is no evidence the Phillies are the NL team reportedly close to acquiring Hellickson.

Marlon Byrd Drawing Early Trade Interest

The Phillies have several players they could trade this offseason, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Marlon Byrd is drawing the most significant interest in the early-going. Byrd has a four-team no-trade clause that previously included the Blue Jays, Mariners, Royals and Rays, but Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish reports (via Twitter) that he has since made some changes to the teams on the no-trade list as the Phillies gear up for the offseason. Players are often allowed to edit their no-trade protection following the completion of a season.

Byrd is owed a very reasonable $8MM in 2015, but the complication in trading him will likely be a vesting option at the same amount for the 2015 season that will trigger if Byrd reaches 463 plate appearances next year. That would lock a team into paying Byrd $8MM for his age-38 season. The option further complicates matters because Byrd can use it as leverage; in July when the Mariners and Royals expressed interest in acquiring him, Byrd reportedly offered to waive the clause only if Seattle or Kansas City would agree to exercise the 2016 option in advance. He could take a similar approach this offseason, identifying four clubs with a need in right field — the Royals and Mariners would make sense — and again attempt to use the option as leverage.

Byrd posted a strong season with the Phillies, batting .264/.312/.445 with 25 homers and plus defense in right field (+3.5 UZR/150, +6 DRS). Given the thin market for outfield bats — Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, Colby Rasmus, Nori Aoki and Alex Rios are among the available names — it’s not surprising that many clubs would consider Byrd to be a more affordable alternative. The question will be whether a team will meet GM Ruben Amaro Jr.’s asking price given Byrd’s age and option, as it seems unlikely that Amaro would be content to simply dump the salary of a productive player elsewhere. Amaro’s asking price on Byrd was said to be rather high at the trade deadline.