Marlon Byrd Rumors

Quick Hits: Waiver Trades, Hamilton, Blazek, Bard

Twins GM Terry Ryan says he has no qualms about blocking potential August trades by making waiver claims, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes (via Twitter). Ryan says he was surprised that Marlon Byrd — who's having a strong season and makes a paltry $700K — made it all the way through waivers until the Pirates claimed him. The Reds, for example, had waiver priority on the Pirates and might well have chosen to claim Byrd, both because Byrd would have cheaply improved their own team and also to prevent the rival Pirates from getting him. Here are more notes from around baseball.

  • The Cardinals are the first big-league team that will have to figure out how to stop Billy Hamilton of the Reds, Max Schmetzer of MLB.com writes. Of course, that means that the basestealing phenom will have to battle against Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. "We have film on [Hamilton]," says Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "We're not going to ask the pitchers to be quicker on him or the catchers to throw quicker." Before the season, Hamilton was ranked the No. 20 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and No. 30 by ESPN's Keith Law. Even in a disappointing 2013 season, Hamilton managed to swipe 75 bases for Triple-A Louisville.
  • Reliever Michael Blazek spent several days in "limbo" before being shipped from the Cardinals to the Brewers in the John Axford deal, Adam McCalvy and Kevin Massoth of MLB.com write. The Cards technically optioned Blazek to Triple-A Memphis on Thursday, but he was actually just waiting in his hotel in St. Louis, presumably to be called up when rosters expanded on Sunday. Instead, in his third day away from the team, he learned he was headed to Milwaukee.
  • Daniel Bard was recently designated for assignment by the Red Sox, but claiming him on waivers could be a tricky proposition, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. That's because the claiming team would have to decide by early December whether to take Bard to arbitration, where he would receive a minimum of about $1.5MM next year. That might be a lot to pay a player who appears to be nowhere near the pitcher he was in 2009 through 2011, when he was a solid relief option.

Aaron Steen contributed to this post.


Pirates Acquire Marlon Byrd And John Buck

WEDNESDAY, 5:34pm: Black is in fact the PTBNL in the deal, Rosenthal tweets.

WEDNESDAY, 5:09pm: Triple-A reliever Vic Black is a strong possibility to be the PTBNL heading from the Pirates to the Mets, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  Black is currently on waivers, but if he is the PTBNL, the Pirates can just pull him back and send him to the Mets at the end of the season rather than right away (Twitter links).  In 46 and 2/3 Triple-A innings this season, Black owns a 2.51 ERA with 63 Ks and 21 BBs. 

Baseball America rated Black as the Bucs' 16th best prospect heading into this season.  Black, who was drafted 49th overall by the Pirates in 2009, began his pro career as a starter but was plagued by control issues and converted to a reliever in 2011.  BA writes that if he can get his walks under control, he has the stuff close in the majors.

8:33am: The Mets also sent the Pirates $250K in the trade, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). That would mean the Pirates are paying just under $1MM — roughly $980K — for Byrd and Buck over the remainder of the season.

TUESDAY: The Pirates are likely headed for their first playoff berth since 1992, and they made sure to bolster their roster accordingly by acquiring Marlon Byrd and John Buck from the Mets for minor league second baseman Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later. Both teams have announced the trade.

Byrd-Marlon

Earlier today, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reported that in the wake of Matt Harvey's injury, the Mets were exploring trade options and had placed five players on waivers, including Byrd, Buck and Pedro Feliciano. Byrd (pictured on the right) was claimed by an unnamed NL team shortly thereafter, which clearly was the Pirates. It's unclear whether Buck cleared waivers or was also claimed by the Pirates following a season-ending injury to backup catcher Michael McKenry.

Byrd, who turns 36 on Friday, is having a surprising career year despite his age. In 464 plate appearances, he's batting .285/.330/.518. His 21 homers and 136 OPS+ are both career-bests. Byrd is no longer a regular center fielder (just two games there in 2013), but his defense in right field grades out to a solid +6.6 UZR/150, and The Fielding Bible pegs him at nine runs saved. Pirates right fielders have batted just .245/.307/.368 this season, and their right field defense ranks 24th in baseball, according to UZR, so Byrd's bat and solid glove will be welcome additions in the Steel City.

Byrd is also owed just $130K for the remainder of the season before he hits free agency, so he's an affordable upgrade for the Pirates, financially speaking. Given that salary, it's a surprise to see that the Reds didn't place a claim to block the Pirates from acquiring him. Cincinnati is just 3.5 games out of first in the NL Central while the Pirates are a half-game back of the Cardinals. All three NL Central teams would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, but the Reds and Pirates would face each other in the one-game Wild Card playoff.

Buck, 33, has cooled off considerably following a meteoric start that saw him club 10 homers in his first 25 games (23 starts). Since May 1, he's hitting just .206/.290/.302 with six homers, and he's owed $1.1MM. However, with McKenry out for the season following surgery to repair a torn meniscus, his pop and veteran leadership should be welcome additions for Pittsburgh. Buck has also caught a strong 30 percent of potential base-stealers.

Herrera, 19, is having a strong season at Class-A West Virgina. The Colombian infielder is hitting .265/.330/.421 with 11 homers and 11 stolen bases in 479 plate appearances. Herrera ranked as the No. 20 prospect in the Pirates system prior to the season, according to Baseball America, and his solid play in 2013 has him currently ranked 11th among Pirates prospects by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.

In their scouting report, BA noted that Herrera has plus speed and surprising power for someone of his size (he's listed as 5'10" and 150 pounds) with the ability to hit the ball to all fields. BA feels that his lack of arm strength will limit him to second base, and Mayo agrees. Mayo adds that Herrera had no problem adjusting to the game after coming to the United States, and he projects an above-average hitter and well-above average runner. Mayo also ranked Herrera as the ninth-best second base prospect in all of minor league baseball.

ESPN's Adam Rubin was the first to report that Byrd and Buck were headed to Pittsburgh (on Twitter), and MLB.com's Anthony DiComo was the first to break that the Pirates were giving up Herrera and a PTBNL (also on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Reactions To The Marlon Byrd Trade

Here are a handful of odds and ends from this afternoon's trade between the Mets and Pirates, in which the Bucs received outfielder Marlon Byrd, catcher John Buck and cash in return for second base prospect Dilson Herrera and a PTBNL.

  • In addition to putting in a waiver claim on Byrd, the Pirates also claimed Buck before the trade, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York writes (on Twitter).
  • The player to be named the Mets are set to receive will be a "solid" one, and that could make an already-strong trade even better for New York, says ESPN's Keith Law (Insider-only). But Law also calls the trade a "truly all-in move" from the Pirates' perspective, noting that Byrd represents an enormous upgrade over the Bucs' right fielders, who have been dreadful this year.
  • Byrd is "a good get" for the Pirates, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan writes. Sullivan notes that, based on what we knew entering the season, it would have been strange to learn that the Pirates were still looking for upgrades in late August, and just as strange that the aging Marlon Byrd would constitute an upgrade.
  • In Herrera, the Mets may be getting an "offensive-oriented second baseman," Matt Eddy of Baseball America writes. Eddy also notes that Herrera could hit for decent power to go with a good on-base percentage, and that appears likely to stick at second base.
  • They may have just traded him, but the Mets may have interest in pursuing Byrd again when he becomes a free agent this winter, Andy Martino of New York Daily News writes (on Twitter).
  • Martino also tweets that the Mets are unlikely to make any more trades this month.


Marlon Byrd Claimed Off Waivers

9:29am: A National League team was awarded the claim on Byrd, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

8:58am: Marlon Byrd has been claimed off revocable trade waivers by an unknown team, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (Twitter link). Not long ago, this wouldn't have seemed as newsworthy, as the Mets had been steadfast in their stance against trading Byrd. However, as Rubin reported earlier this morning, the Mets are likely to make at least one trade in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Byrd, who turns 36 on Friday, is enjoying a surprising career year with the Mets. His 21 homers are a career-high, as is his 136 OPS+, and his .285/.330/.522 batting line has made him one of baseball's most productive right fielders. His defense grades out well in right, and he's owed just $130K for the remainder of the season.

The Mets will have 48 hours to work out a trade with the claiming team, so the latest we could find out resolution on the situation would be Thursday. Prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Reds, Pirates and Orioles were among the teams to show interest in Byrd.


Mets Likely To Make Late August Trades

One day after learning that ace Matt Harvey has a torn UCL in his right elbow, ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin reports that the Mets are poised to be active on the trade front in the final days of August. According to Rubin, five players have been placed on revocable trade waivers, and at least one trade is likely in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Marlon Byrd, John Buck and Pedro Feliciano are three of the players to hit waivers, and the Mets have already recalled lefty Robert Carson, catcher Anthony Recker and outfielder Matt den Dekker from Triple-A Las Vegas. Obviously, that trio of minor leaguers could serve as replacements for the three known players on waivers.

Byrd, who turns 36 on Friday, is having a surprising career year despite his age. He drew significant interest prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline, but the Mets opted to hang onto him. In 464 plate appearances, he's batting .285/.330/.518. His 21 homers and 136 OPS+ are both career-bests. Byrd is no longer a regular center fielder (just two games there in 2013), but his defense in right field grades out to a solid +6.6 UZR/150, and The Fielding Bible pegs him at nine runs saved. As Rubin notes, just $130K remains on Byrd's 2013 salary, making him a highly affordable trade chip.

Buck, 33, has cooled off considerably following a meteoric start that saw him club 10 homers in his first 25 games (23 starts). Since May 1, he's hitting just .206/.290/.302 with six homers, limiting his value. However, Travis d'Arnaud is now drawing the majority of the time behind the plate, so the Mets would likely welcome the opportunity to clear the remaining $1.1MM of Buck's salary.

Feliciano, 37, returned to the Majors for the first time since 2010 on Aug. 2 and has allowed a pair of runs in 5 1/3 innings since. His health woes in recent years likely leave him without high trade value, but he'd be a nice alternative to Javier Lopez, whom the Giants reportedly aren't likely to trade even though he's been claimed on waivers. Opposing lefties are just 3-for-17 against Feliciano this season, and all four of his strikeouts have come against left-handed batters.

Rubin also writes that in addition to Byrd, Buck and Feliciano, the Mets are considering dealing Major League talent that is under control beyond the 2013 season.


Teams Showing Interest In Marlon Byrd

12:48pm: There are suitors for Byrd but right now, but no one seems to be willing to meet the Mets' asking price, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday.  Meanwhile, Byrd is the only Mets player that has come up in trade conversations (Twitter link).

Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (on Twitter) notes that the Reds were kicking the tires on Byrd at one point but have since backed off.

12:28pm: While things were quiet on the Marlon Byrd front, the Mets are suddenly getting hits on the veteran, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter).  The Mets have made counteroffers to clubs and are waiting to see if anyone budges.  The Pirates are believed to be among the teams interested in Byrd.

Earlier this week we heard that the Orioles also had some interest in Byrd, but the Mets were unlikely to move him unless they were really blown away by an offer.  This morning, the Mets were contending that they still weren't planning to make any moves, but things might have changed this afternoon.


Orioles Trade Targets: Byrd, Oliver Perez

The Orioles currently stand to take the second wild card spot in the American League, and they've already bolstered their pitching staff with the additions of Scott Feldman and Francisco Rodriguez.  Here's the latest on their trade targets, courtesy of Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun:

  • Connolly feels the Phillies' Michael Young is the best fit for the Orioles at DH, but the team hasn't made an aggressive push for him at this point.  Connolly expects Young to go elsewhere if traded.
  • The Orioles are interested in the Mets' Marlon Byrd.  However, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes today that Byrd is "highly unlikely" to be traded.  Connolly also believes Mariners lefty reliever Oliver Perez is the most likely player to be acquired by the Orioles.
  • Connolly says to forget about Cliff Lee and Jake Peavy.  Instead, the O's have coveted the Astros' Bud Norris and Chris Sale of the White Sox.
  • Connolly expects the Orioles to pass on the Twins' Justin Morneau.
  • Orioles minor leaguers Mike Wright, Tim Berry, and Christian Walker have piqued teams' interests.
  • Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette feels he has the money and prospects to make a deal, if the right one comes along.

Mets Notes: Byrdak, Collins, Trade Chips

It's been 731 days since the Mets traded Carlos Beltran to the Giants in exchange for Zack Wheeler, and while that trade looks brilliant now, it also represents the last July trade that involved the Amazin's. Here's more on New York's National League club…

  • Tim Byrdak's contract contains a clause that allows him to leave the Mets should another team offer him a Major League roster spot, MLBTR has learned. After being contacted by an interested team, the Mets would have 48 hours to add Byrdak to their own big league roster. If they chose not to do so, Byrdak would be free to join the new team, and the Mets would receive no compensation. The clause is similar to the one that allowed Jason Grilli to leave the Phillies and join the Pirates in 2011. Byrdak currently has a 2.45 ERA and 11-to-3 K/BB ratio in 11 innings at High-A St. Lucie as he works his way back from shoulder and knee surgeries in late 2012.
  • A Mets executive told Mike Puma of the New York Post that he would be surprised if manager Terry Collins were replaced after the season. The Mets are happy with the job that Collins has done, and the executive says the team is doing a good job of "sprinting to the finish line" with Collins at the helm (Twitter links). Collins still only under contract through the 2013 season.
  • Puma's colleague, Joel Sherman, tweets that left-handed relief is in such high demand, the Mets actually received calls checking in on how Byrdak and Pedro Feliciano were progressing in their rehab.
  • Nothing has changed on the Marlon Byrd and Bobby Parnell front, according to Sherman (on Twitter). The Mets have received nibbles on both, but not nearly enough to make a deal likely.
  • The Mets are seeking a "Wheeler type" top prospect in exchange for Parnell, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Given that exborbitant price tag, it's no surprise that interest hasn't picked up much.
  • Sherman adds that the Mets had hoped to see interest in Daniel Murphy, John Buck and Eric Young Jr., but to this point they haven't received calls on that group. As such, they're likely to simply try to win as many games as they can with the current group in the season's second half.

Rangers Not Planning More Significant Moves

Four straight losses have dropped the Rangers to 1.5 games out in the wild card.  Here's the latest:

  • The Rangers aren't planning on making any major moves prior to the deadline, writes Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. General manager Jon Daniels doesn't think his team will acquire a significant right-handed bat, nor does he plan on trading Joe Nathan. Daniels told Wilson that the idea of trading Nathan never gained much traction: "We'll talk about anything," Daniels said. "That's our jobs, but talking about something and having it happen are very different things." Wilson adds that the Rangers haven't had any serious talks about Alex Rios, Hunter Pence or Kendrys Morales recently, and they were never that big on the idea of re-acquiring Michael Young or Marlon Byrd.

Earlier Updates

  • The Rangers are strongly considering standing pat, writes Yahoo's Jeff Passan.
  • Manny Ramirez doesn't have an opt-out in his minor league deal with the Rangers, writes Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, but the team "never intended to keep him dangling."  They haven't yet decided whether they'll keep Manny in the organization, though they aren't expected to promote him.  The 41-year-old is hitting .269/.347/.418 in 75 Triple-A plate appearances.
  • "I've never had to worry about this stuff before and I'm not going to start now," closer Joe Nathan told Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News regarding his rumored availability.  It's hard to picture which contender could offer a quality bat for a closer, anyway.  

NL East Notes: Phillies, Gonzalez, Braves, Nationals

Marlins hitting coach Tino Martinez resigned today amid allegations of verbal and physical abuse of players, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Two sources told Spencer the agent for recently-demoted second baseman Derek Dietrich contacted the team several months ago to report an incident where Martinez erupted in anger unjustly and grabbed a player by his neck and neck chain. The MLBPA was notified of the alleged incident, as well as others involving Martinez, and the union then contacted the Commisioner's office and that office was expected to contact the Marlins on Tuesday, Spencer reports. Martinez, who had never been a Major League coach before this season, was owner Jeffrey Loria’s hand-picked selection to become Marlins' hitting coach. The Red Sox also had interest in hiring Martinez before he took the job with the Marlins. In other news and notes coming from the NL East:

  • The Phillies are still not acknowledging the signing of Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez as sources say the Cuban right-hander is awaiting visa approval, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gonzalez reportedly agreed to a six-year, $48MM contract with the Phillies, which could be worth as much as $59MM.
  • Gelb also tweeted that Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins indicated he is not willing to waive his no-trade clause, if asked.
  • There is no indication the Phillies are aggressively taking offers for Chase Utley in the event a contract extension cannot be reached, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
  • The Braves have not had any conversations with the Royals regarding Ervin Santana, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, including the Washington Times' Amanda Comak, he would like to add some more depth before the Trade Deadline. "If we could tweak or improve certain spots on the bench, I think that would be one place that we would attack," Rizzo said. "We’ve got a lot of trade discussions. We’ve received calls, we’ve made calls.
  • Manager Terry Collins doesn't expect the Mets to make any moves prior to the Trade Deadline, reports Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Marlon Byrd is the Met name most mentioned in trade rumors and a team source tells Ackert the asking price is a top 10-15 prospect.