The Giants are interested in keeping outfielder Marlon Byrd in 2016, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The Giants have an $8MM club option for Byrd’s services in 2016 as part of the deal he originally signed with the Phillies.
There are, however, other factors at play here. As Jeff Todd noted in his vesting options update from earlier this week, Byrd’s option automatically vests if he gets 550 plate appearances this season. Byrd currently stands at 513 with ten games remaining. If the Giants were to simply let him play every day for the rest of the season, it’s likely his option would vest. With a couple days off, Byrd could come up just short, in which case the Giants would get to make a decision. The Giants’ interest in Byrd suggests they could simply exercise the option even if it doesn’t vest, and that wouldn’t be unreasonable — Byrd is hitting just .250 with a .296 OBP this year, but with 22 home runs and a .456 slugging percentage, he remains useful.
Then again, Byrd is already 38, and it’s also conceivable the Giants could hope to retain him more cheaply than $8MM, especially since the injured Hunter Pence will be back in 2016, pushing Byrd to more of a fourth-outfielder-type role. The Giants will also likely want to spend money on pitching. Since they’re currently are all but out of the playoffs, they could easily defend having Byrd sit a game or two for the rest of the season in order to give an extra start to a September call-up like Jarrett Parker or Mac Williamson. That would likely prevent the option from vesting. Of course, Byrd might then see an attempt to sign him more cheaply as bad faith, which might cause him to sign elsewhere, particularly if he were assured of more playing time.
That sort of maneuvering doesn’t seem typical of the Giants, however. They’re usually loyal to their players, frequently extending or re-signing veterans (including Pence, Tim Lincecum, Sergio Romo, Jake Peavy, Javier Lopez, Ryan Vogelsong, Jeremy Affeldt and Marco Scutaro) shortly before or shortly after they hit free agency. Byrd’s value certainly seems close to $8MM, so if the Giants want to keep him, they seem likely to try to do so in such a way that his impending option situation doesn’t cause strife. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to watch the box scores for the rest of the season to see how much Byrd plays.