Marlon Byrd Rumors

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…


AL East Rumors: Ryan, Drew, Freese, Wieters

This morning's news out of the American League East..

  • A deal that would bring Brendan Ryan back to the Yankees was set weeks ago, pending a physical following minor surgery, according to Peter Gammons of MLB Network (via Twitter).  There's reportedly mutual interest in a new deal.
  • Stephen Drew won't be back with the Red Sox, a source tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.  There are a number of teams out there that are willing to make multi-year deals beyond what the BoSox are willing to do.
  • A report yesterday indicated that the Yankees are in pursuit of Cardinals third baseman David Freese, but someone involved with the club tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post that it won't happen.  The Yankees still won't know what will happen with Alex Rodriguez for at least another month, so if the club does anything at third base, it will be with a left-handed complement, such as Eric Chavez, or a free agent like Jhonny Peralta or Drew who could play shortstop or third and provide insurance for both Jeter and A-Rod.  Sherman also notes the possibility that the Yanks could wait and see if the Cards non-tender Freese ($4.4MM projected), but as Tim Dierkes wrote earlier this month, that seems like a drastic measure.
  • Sherman also writes that Marlon Byrd apparently wasn't on the Yankees radar.  When asked about the outfielder, GM Brian Cashman said, "I didn't even know who his agent was."  As shown in the MLBTR Agency Database, his agent is Seth Levinson, who has a long, strong relationship with Cashman.
  • Free agent outfielder Chris Young is on the Red Sox's list of fallback options if they don't re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
  • Both Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy have been mentioned in trade rumors over the last couple of days, but Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette didn't sound eager to move either one in a conversation with Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.

Phillies Sign Marlon Byrd

The Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd to a two-year, $16MM deal, according to a team release. The deal includes an $8MM option for 2016 that vests if Byrd gets 600 plate appearances in 2015 or 550 plate appearances in 2015 and a total of 1100 plate appearances in 2014 and 2015. If the option does not vest, it becomes a team option.Marlonbyrd

The deal will bring Byrd back to the team that he started his major league career with in 2002.  The 36-year-old is coming off of a season in which he posted a career-best .294/.336/.511 slash line and 24 homers for the Mets and PIrates.  It was a well-timed strong campaign for Byrd and it helped his stock tremendously after he was slapped with a 50-game suspension for PED use in 2012.

Byrd crushed lefties in 2013 slashing .344/.376/.583 with eight homers in 178 plate appearances, but he showed that he can handle right-handed pitchers as well.  Byrd batted .268/.318/.480 against right-handers in 2013, giving him a 129 OPS+ against righties and a 157 mark against lefties.

The Phillies have been linked to Byrd this offseason as they were in search of a right-handed hitting outfielder.  They weren't the only ones, however, as the MetsPirates, and Mariners all had varying degrees of interest this winter.

General Manager Ruben Amaro & Co. certainly hope that they'll be getting the 2013 version of Byrd and not the '12 incarnation.  Byrd had just 153 plate appearances in 2012 thanks to his suspension and slashed just .210/.243/.245 for the Cubs and Red Sox.

The outfielder is represented by Seth and Sam Levinson of ACES, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database.  Earlier this month, our own Steve Adams predicted a two-year, $16MM deal for Byrd.

Michael Barkann of WIP reported that Byrd and the Phillies had agreed to terms. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tweeted that Byrd would get two years and $16MM. ESPN's Jayson Stark tweeted details of Byrd's 2016 option.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Reactions To The Marlon Byrd Signing

The Phillies' signing of outfielder Marlon Byrd to a two-year, $16MM contract wasn't the best idea, ESPN's Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Law cites Byrd's age, PED history and high 2013 batting average on balls in play as potential red flags, and suggests that Byrd might not even be a starting-caliber player over the length of the contract. "Even if you believe that Byrd's power increase is sustainable, as he's made some changes to his swing, paying him as if he'll be more than a .270/.315/.450 guy is irrationally exuberant — and even that assumes his legs will stay healthy enough for him to get to 20-odd homers each year," Law says. Here are more notes on the Byrd signing.

  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington, who acquired Byrd in an August trade with the Mets, wasn't surprised by Byrd's contract, the Inquirer's Matt Gelb writes (on Sulia). "As you look at that outfield group, if you don't want to give up your first-round pick, Marlon Byrd is arguably the best available outfield bat," says Huntington. "He was one of the better players on the market."
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson wasn't surprised by Byrd's contract, either, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reports. "Had you asked me the question three or four months ago, I might have been surprised. But not in light of what's happened since the end of the season," Alderson says. "There haven't been that many signings, but this one is consistent with the others." The Mets did not have serious discussions with Byrd about returning, Alderson says.
  • Without mentioning Byrd's name, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. indicated that the Phillies' primary reason for agreeing to terms with Byrd was the lack of power in their outfield, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury writes. "There’s not a lot of power out there. It’s pretty simple," said Amaro. "It’s difficult to develop and it’s difficult to hold on to. Power is an issue and if our club can add some, that would be great."

AL West Links: Mariners, Cruz, Napoli, Preller, Angels

"The expectation is" that the Mariners will target right-handed hitters such as Jhonny Peralta, Marlon Byrd, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz this offseason, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  The M's were particularly weak from the right side of the plate last season and will look to upgrade their right-handed bats, though really, Seattle will look to add hitting in any form.  Ken Rosenthal also noted that the Mariners were looking at right-handed hitters earlier this week, though he noted that the M's were in on Napoli.  Here's some more news from around the AL West…

  • Cruz declined his qualifying offer from the Rangers today and Adam Katz, Cruz's agent, told ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett that he will continue to talk with the team about his client's possible return to Texas.  "We've always been engaged with the Rangers and continue to be," Katz said.  Durrett notes, the draft pick compensation tied to Cruz may hurt him in free agency, though MLBTR's Steve Adams recently predicted Cruz would find a three-year, $39MM deal on the open market.
  • Brian Grieper, Napoli's agent, is scheduled to meet with Rangers GM Jon Daniels during the GM Meetings, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets.  The Rangers are known to be looking for an upgrade at first base and Napoli, a former Ranger, would definitely fit the bill.
  • The Rangers have promoted A.J. Preller to assistant general manager, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (Twitter link).  Preller had previously worked as the team's senior director of player personnel.  Texas also named Mike Daly, formerly their director of international scouting, as the franchise's new senior director of minor league operations.
  • The Angels have been opposed to going over the luxury tax limit under Arte Moreno's ownership and that's not likely to change, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez writes.  Gonzalez also looks at Mark Trumbo trade rumors and a possible Mike Trout extension as part of his all-Angels mailbag.
  • In another item from Gonzalez, he speculates about what the Angels might have to give up (and what the Rays might want) in order to facilitate a David Price trade.
  • Earlier today on MLBTR we collected another set of AL West notes earlier today on MLBTR, a set of Astros-related notes and learned that the Angels signed Wade LeBlanc to a minor league deal.

Phillies Notes: Free Agency, Morse, Ruiz, Buck

Here's the latest from the City of Brotherly Love…


Mets Notes: Murphy, Davis, Duda, Hart, Granderson

The Mets are listening to offers on Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy, but are not aggressively shopping them at this point, according to Marc Carig of Newsday (via Twitter).  Here's more on the Mets…

  • Five or six teams have inquired about Davis and/or Lucas Duda, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports.  Duda is considered by some AL teams to be a fit as a designated hitter, Carig tweets.
  • Peralta appears to be the Mets' top free agent target, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes.  The club "really likes" Peralta but they don't know if he intends to sign soon or later in the offseason.
  • The Mets have talked to free agent Corey Hart, but Martino gets the sense that they either don't identify him as a top target or aren't that eager to get a deal done with him.  Carig (link) also hears from a source that the Mets aren't close to a deal with the Brewers first baseman.  "We haven't discussed him in depth enough to say where we'd put him if we got him," the source said.
  • The Mets have plans to meet with Curtis Granderson's agent this week, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (on Twitter).  The outfielder is turning down the Yankees' $14.1MM qualifying offer.
  • The Mets have touched base with Marlon Byrd's representatives in the last few days, according to Carig (link).  Recently, Steve Adams examined the market for Byrd and concluded that he could fetch a deal in the neighborhood of $16MM over two years.
  • A source suggested to Carig (link) that it would make sense for the Mets to take their time in trading Davis and take advantage of a market that is starved for power.  Carig (link) hears that the Mets might do just that and hang on to him until later in the offseason when teams will be seeking out less costly alternatives to add power.
  • The Mets aren't actively talking to Mike Pelfrey about a possible reunion, but they are open to it, a team official tells Adam Rubin.  "I know he is on a long list of guys just like him," the team insider said.  The Mets non-tendered the hurler after he earned $5.7MM in 2012.
  • The Mets' top priority is shortstop, but they're hardly alone in that, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Possible options for the Mets include Peralta, Erick Aybar, Didi Gregorius, Rafael Furcal, and Jed Lowrie.