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.