Marlon Byrd Rumors

NL Central Notes: Reds, Cardinals, Brewers, Pirates

The National League Central saw a change atop its leaderboard as the Brewers fell out of first place for the first time since April 5 after a 5-4 walk-off loss to the Nationals. It could be temporary pending the outcome of the Cardinals’ game with the Dodgers tonight. Here’s the latest from the NL Central:

  • Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty has several of his inner-circle baseball operations people on the road with him and is eyeing some additions, but that doesn’t mean anything will happen this month. “I’d like to add a bat,” Jocketty said, according to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. “We just haven’t found anything that attracts us yet. It may not happen before the 31st.”  Jocketty went on to say if the Reds acquire a bat, the preference would be for the player to play multiple positions.
  • With Brandon Phillips on the disabled list, the Reds GM was asked about pursuing the recently released Dan Uggla. “We haven’t discussed that yet,” Jocketty said (as quoted by John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer). “I haven’t talked to our scouts that saw him. I don’t know. We’re going to meet tomorrow and go over some stuff.
  • In a chat with Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter), Jocketty made it clear he’d like to acquire a middle of the order bat he could put into the Reds‘ lineup right away, not an injury risk type player.  When asked about Rays‘ second baseman Ben Zobrist (link), Jocketty said, “That’s a good name. That’s all I’ll say.”
  • The Reds have interest in the Phillies‘ Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo, reports CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury.
  • The Cardinals‘ top Trade Deadline priority should be starting pitching and not a replacement for the injured Yadier Molina, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • The Cardinals‘ due diligence with David Price is reminiscent of their pursuit of Matt Holliday in 2009, tweets Strauss’ colleague at the P-D, Derrick Goold (Twitter links).
  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin has downplayed the prospects of making a major deal before the Trade Deadline citing the lack of playing time for a bat and the limited impact a reliever can have because of the few innings they pitch, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt.
  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters, including Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the ask is still high on the trade market, but the club has the payroll flexibility to make a move. “It’s the basic law of supply and demand,” Huntington said. “There’s not a lot of teams that are looking to sell, and there are a lot of teams looking to buy. There’s not a ton of players out there who are significant upgrades. There are some guys you think can be, so as a result asking prices higher than you’d like. It’s a balance of what do you give up for projected current wins for projected future wins.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


Latest On Trade Talks Between Mariners, Rays

FRIDAY: Taijuan Walker‘s name is once again at the center of trade talks surrounding Price, reports Heyman. He adds that Tampa has also expressed interest in the likes of corner infield prospect D.J. Peterson and James Paxton, neither of which is particularly surprising; Peterson and Paxton are two of the top young players in Seattle’s system.

The two sides are discussing various iterations of deals for Price, Zobrist or both. Heyman adds that Seattle might be willing to include Brad Miller in a deal as well, given the emergence of Triple-A shortstop Chris Taylor. The M’s, however, have said they won’t deal Mike Zunino.

THURSDAY, 9:51pm: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Mariners’ talks with the Rays have been more focused on Zobrist than Price, and the two sides have been discussing Zobrist “for weeks.” Nick Franklin‘s name has frequently come up in talks, he adds.

Heyman also reports that the Mariners have spoken to the Twins about Josh Willingham and the White Sox about Dayan Viciedo, and he notes that he, too, has heard Byrd’s name in learning of the Mariners’ trade talks. One big league source tells Heyman, however, that a deal for Byrd is now “less than likely” due to his no-trade clause.

He also adds that the Mariners’ ownership group is very big on bringing in players who want to be in Seattle. Offseason comments by Price’s agent about his client not wanting to sign a long-term deal in Seattle seem to indicate that Price doesn’t fit that description. However, the team’s status as a legitimate postseason contender may have changed Price’s thinking on that front.

2:10pm: Though no deal is imminent, the Mariners have been engaged in ongoing discussions with the Rays regarding lefty David Price and utilityman Ben Zobrist, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Meanwhile, talks have stalled with the Phillies regarding Marlon Byrd.

Needless to say, Price and Zobrist both represent potential impact to contenders. Either player could presumably add value to just about every roster in baseball. That holds particularly true for Seattle, which could not only pair Price with current ace Felix Hernandez but would be able to play Zobrist at shortstop, outfield, or even first base.

Of course, the return for either — and, especially, both — would figure to be substantial. (It is not clear from Morosi’s report whether the two would be joined in any potential deal, or indeed whether the sides have progressed that far.) Tampa is said to be interested in beating the return that the Cubs received for Jeff Samardzija, if it deals Price at all. Certainly, a hypothetical pairing of Price and Zobrist (both under control for next season) would require a bigger return on paper than was commanded by Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

Meanwhile, the news on Byrd makes sense in light of last night’s report from ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden, which indicated that Byrd would ask the Mariners to guarantee his $8MM option for 2016 in order to waive his no-trade clause. Seattle is one of just four teams on Byrd’s no-trade list.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Bowden On Price, Hamels, Byrd, Angels, A’s, Reds, More

ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required and recommended) offers a bounty of information on the trade market as we draw to within two weeks of the deadline. While you’ll want to give the piece a full read, here are some of the many highlights:

  • The Rays are in no hurry to deal ace David Price, and some possible trade partners increasingly believe that he will not change hands before the deadline. The club still wants to see if a post-season run remains possible; though the club sits 9.5 games back at the break, the division does still look somewhat vulnerable. If Tampa does look to move Price, arguably the best potential trade chip in baseball, it will demand more in return than the Cubs received for Jeff Samardzija — who, you may recall, was the key piece in a package that brought back one of the game’s elite prospects in Addison Russell. Needless to say, Price is a rare commodity, especially given his additional season of control, and his potential absence from the market (combined with the A’s early strike for two other top starters) could have interesting repercussions.
  • One player whose trade attention would potentially rise if Price stays put is Cole Hamels of the Phillies, who of course has plenty of value regardless. Bowden says that GMs around the league get the sense that Philadelphia will be very hesitant to move their star lefty, however. (Fellow top southpaw Cliff Lee, meanwhile, looks more and more a potential August trade piece.)
  • Ultimately, while the Phillies will not conduct a true fire sale, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated through conversations with his peers that the club is prepared to sell. Outfielder Marlon Byrd is the most likely to go, says Bowden, though his contract presents some complications. While the Mariners are interested in him, Bowden says that the recent free agent signee will ask that the club guarantee his $8MM option for 2016, which Seattle is not currently willing to do. The Royals could also make sense as a partner, but also appear on Byrd’s four-team no-trade list and do not want to take on that level of mid-term commitment. It would appear that Byrd’s representatives at ACES advised their client well in selecting the relatively paltry number of teams to which he could refuse a trade.
  • Angels owner Arte Moreno has enabled GM Jerry Dipoto to be aggressive in trade talks, says Bowden. In addition to Huston Street and Ian Kennedy (read more on them here), the Halos have asked the Padres about righty Tyson Ross, though the Super Two hurler is unlikely to be moved. Indeed, now in the midst of his second consecutive season of high-end production, the 27-year-old starter (and his three remaining years of control) would require a significant return.
  • The Athletics remain aggressive on the second base market, with GM Billy Beane also said to be exploring more creative means of improving his club. Oakland is not inclined to deal away shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson after moving their top prospect, says Bowden, with the club’s internal evaluators believing that he could have as much future value as the more-hyped Russell.
  • The Reds are still looking to add a hitter, with Ben Zobrist of the Rays making a perfect match on paper given his positional flexibility and the club’s current injury situation. (Of course, the same could be said of several other clubs.) With Josh Willingham of the Twins set to hit free agency, he has also been looked at by Cincinnati.
  • Bowden provides several other interesting notes. Among them: the Braves have canvassed the market for a southpaw reliever and could be interested in James Russell of the Cubs and Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers will likely add a starter. The Cardinals are planning to scout Twins‘ catcher Kurt Suzuki as they assess things behind the plate. And the Giants remain interested in a second base addition in the event that Marco Scutaro cannot stay healthy and productive.


Latest On Mariners Outfield Trade Possibilities

SUNDAY: The Mariners have had serious discussions with the Phillies about Byrd, who is said to be willing to waive his no-trade clause, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times.

SATURDAY: The Mariners appear likely to try to acquire a righty-hitting outfielder, and CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman has the latest on trade possibilities they might pursue. Heyman notes that the Mariners have scouted Marlon Byrd, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported yesterday (on Twitter). Byrd has a four-team no-trade clause that includes the Mariners, although he told CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury that the no-trade to the Mariners and Royals “really are things that were just put on at the time being.” The 36-year-old Byrd is hitting .263/.315/.484 for Philadelphia this season, with 18 homers in 381 plate appearances.

Byrd is signed through 2015 with a team/vesting option for 2016, and Heyman notes that if the Mariners prefer a contract that could expire after the season, they could instead pursue Josh Willingham of the Twins or Alex Rios of the Rangers (who has a $13.5MM option and a $1MM buyout for 2015). Dayan Viciedo of the White Sox or Junior Lake of the Cubs could also be possibilities.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Marlon Byrd Reveals Four-Team No-Trade Clause

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.”

11:18am: In search of a much-needed right-handed bat for their lineup, the Mariners have been scouting Marlon Byrd recently, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter).

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.


Quick Hits: Samardzija, Viciedo, D-Backs, Byrd

Jeff Samardzija couldn’t be happier to be joining the A’s, writes MLB.com’s Jane Lee.  “Billy asked me how I felt,” said Samardzija. “I was supposed to pitch today, so I’m a day past my due date to pitch. I’m chomping at the bit. I don’t think there’s any better way to get acclimated than to do it on the mound. It was a no-brainer for me, and I look forward to it.” Here’s more from around baseball.


Cafardo’s Latest: Morales, D’Backs, Kemp

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has lots of hot stove information to share in his latest Sunday Notes column

  • Kendrys Morales has already become a positive clubhouse figure in his short time with the Twins and Cafardo wouldn’t be surprised to see Minnesota try to extend the slugger.  It’s also possible the Twins could deal Morales before the deadline and then re-sign him as a free agent this winter.
  • The Diamondbacks seem willing to listen about trade offers for any player except Paul Goldschmidt, Cafardo notes.  Martin Prado could be an attractive trade chip, though possible trade candidates like Bronson Arroyo and Mark Trumbo might not have enough time before the deadline to show that they’re healthy.  “We’re meeting on it.  Figures we are sellers, not buyers,” D’Backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa said.
  • The Red Sox “spent significant time watching Matt Kemp last week,” though Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Cafardo that Kemp isn’t being traded.  Kemp’s recent hot streak has “reinforced” his value to Colletti given the dearth of right-handed power options around the game.
  • The Nationals could make Danny Espinosa available to second base-needy teams like the Giants or Blue Jays once Bryce Harper returns from the DL.  With Harper back in the outfield, Washington would use Ryan Zimmerman at third and Anthony Rendon at second, leaving Espinosa without a regular job.  Given Zimmerman’s shoulder problems and questionable future as a third baseman, however, I’d tend to think that the Nats would keep Espinosa as a valuable depth piece.
  • Phillies outfielders Marlon Byrd and Ben Revere appear to be available, as Cafardo adds them to the long list of notable Philadelphia players who could be trade targets before the deadline.
  • Red Sox catching prospect Christian Vazquez would be the top ask for any team looking to make a major trade with Boston.  “That would be across the board, even for a major hitter. He’s major league-ready right now offensively and defensively,” a scout tells Cafardo.  “We also think he’ll hit for some power in the majors. Because they have Blake Swihart, who a lot of teams will ask for as well, they probably would reluctantly give up Vazquez.”  This same scout, however, says that between the two young catchers, he would keep Swihart.
  • While Nate Schierholtz has only hit .207/.261/.313 in 249 PA this season, the Cubs will likely still trade the outfielder.  Schierholtz is only signed through the end of the season and he is owed approximately $2.78MM in remaining salary.
  • The Padres “would like to conduct a fire sale” and Chris Denorfia, Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin and Seth Smith could all be available.  Cafardo notes that Smith would be a good fit in the Red Sox outfield.
  • Several teams are interested in Grady Sizemore, who one scout feels will perform better now that he has had time to get re-accustomed to playing.  “Whoever gets him next will probably get a better player than what Boston had. He needed more time, and with that problem offensively up there they [the Red Sox] couldn’t wait,” the scout said.
  • The Blue Jays, Cubs, Marlins, Phillies and Rangers have been the teams who have been most aggressively scouting the major and minor league rosters of other clubs, Cafardo reports.

NL Notes: Byrd, Towers, Ramirez

Marlon Byrd is glad the Mets gave him a chance last season, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reports. The Mets signed Byrd to a minor-league deal, and he had an improbable age-35 breakout season that resulted in a trade to the Pirates, followed by a two-year, $16MM deal with the Phillies. “They let me go out there and play my game. They gave me a chance to make a team,” says Byrd. “Hopefully I helped them out a little bit, me and Bucky bringing Vic Black back [in the trade] — a strong arm, a closer for the future. Hopefully we helped each other out.” Here are more notes from the National League.

  • GM Kevin Towers is hopeful that the Diamondbacks will continue to back him despite the team’s poor start, Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona reports (Twitter links). “I feel we have their support but I would imagine that they’re evaluating things as we’re evaluating things,” Towers says. “Hopefully we have their continued support and they are patient enough with this club to where … we turn it around.” There has been plenty of speculation about the futures of both Towers and manager Kirk Gibson. Whatever the team itself might be thinking about, though, it seems somewhat unlikely it would fire Towers just weeks before the June draft.
  • The Dodgers have announced that they’ve promoted reliever Paco Rodriguez to the big leagues and optioned infielder Carlos Triunfel to Triple-A Albuquerque. As Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times points out, the Triunfel move signals that the Dodgers are comfortable that infielder Hanley Ramirez is ready to play regularly. Ramirez had been suffering from a thumb injury.

East Notes: Murphy, Cano, Perez, Rays

The Mets are looking for players to buy into their offensive philosophy, and that means finding guys with discipline at the plate, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.  That might help to explain why the free-swinging Daniel Murphy has found himself on the pages of MLBTR over the last week or so.  Marlon Byrd, who signed a lucrative two-year deal with the Philies, didn't show up on the Mets radar because he also doesn't fit the bill for what the Mets are looking for.  Possible target Curtis Granderson, however, boasts a solid walk rate.  Here's more out of the AL and NL East..

  • It was hard to find an executive at the GM Meetings who didn't expect to see Robinson Cano back with the Yankees, but almost everyone expects a leverage battle between the two sides, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Sherman suggests that the Bombers could invoke a similar strategy to what they did with Andy Pettitte after the 2008 season.  The Yanks offered the hurler a pay cut from $16MM to $10MM and when he declined, they cautioned that the offer would go down if they signed someone else.  After they spent megabucks on Mark Teixeira, Pettitte (reluctantly) accepted a $5.5MM deal.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson told Mike Francesa of WFAN Radio that he wouldn’t trade Noah Syndergaard under virtually any circumstances, according to Matthew Cerrone of Metsblog.
  • The Nationals have interest in free agent Oliver Perez, a person familiar with the situation tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.  Left-handed batters hit .238/.358/.288 against the 32-year-old reliever last season.
  • After numerous conversations with player agents and other teams, Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman headed home from the GM Meetings with a better sense of potential moves, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.  The Rays are looking for a first baseman, catcher, and one or two late-inning relievers. Friedman isn't sure if their next move is a trade or signing, but he "would be surprised" if nothing happened between now and the winter meetings on December 8th.

Phillies Links: Mujica, Ruiz, Amaro, Byrd

Here are some notes out of Philadelphia…