Marlon Byrd Rumors

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.

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 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 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 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 (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 (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.