Marlon Byrd is just 15 plate appearances shy of the 550 required for his $8MM option to vest, but it appears that will not happen, writes Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area. Manager Bruce Bochy told the San Francisco media before today’s contest that his plan is to play rookies Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker as much as possible in the team’s final games.
As Pavlovic notes, the decision comes on the heels of the Dodgers’ clinching of the NL West division championship. Had the Giants remained in the race, he writes, Byrd likely would’ve remained in the lineup and accrued the necessary plate appearances to trigger the option. Instead, Bochy feels it more valuable to rookies Williamson and Parker as well as to the team as a means of assessing the young talent.
General manager Bobby Evans met with Byrd to discuss the decision today, Pavlovic adds, and Bochy himself is also planning a sit-down with the veteran corner outfielder. Despite the fact that Byrd’s option will not vest, Evans conveyed to the 38-year-old that San Francisco would very much like him to return for the 2016 season. Per Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News, Evans offered the following take on Byrd:
“He’s been a great addition to our club and we have interest in bringing him back for next year. When we acquired Marlon, our mindset was to do everything to win, and if we get eliminated, we do what we should do and that’s give our young players a chance to play. Right now, our mindset is to give our young players a chance.”
The Giants acquired Byrd from the Reds roughly six weeks ago, as injuries to both Hunter Pence and Nori Aoki had compromised their outfield depth. In his 147 plate appearances with San Francisco, Byrd has batted a very solid .275/.306/.449 with three homers, 11 doubles and a pair of triples. Overall this season, Byrd has rather pedestrian numbers against right-handed pitching, having batted .238/.279/.436. However, he’s been far more effective when holding the platoon advantage, batting .276/.331/.488 against lefties.
With questionable OBP but solid pop against righties and strong overall production against lefties, Byrd looks the part of at least a platoon outfielder that could occasionally be relied upon for more regular playing time, should injuries necessitate that scenario. The Giants, presumably, would want him back in that capacity as opposed to a starting option. He could, theoretically anyhow, be re-signed at a lower rate and paired with Aoki (whose $5.5MM option seems likely to be exercised) to form a left field platoon, with Pence manning right field.
Baggarly wonders if a two-year deal might be necessary on the Giants’ behalf to make up for the damage done by willfully preventing Byrd’s option from vesting, though, and if that’s the case, I can see San Francisco deeming the price too much. The team could, after all, elect focus its financial resources on upgrading the pitching staff and deploy the right-handed-hitting Williamson in a similar capacity to the one I suggested for Byrd.