7:45pm: Byrd has passed his physical, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tweets. He’ll earn $1MM if he cracks the major league roster. The contract also includes some incentives, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com adds on Twitter.
11:04am: The Indians and outfielder Marlon Byrd have agreed to a minor league contract, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The 38-year-old Byrd, who split last season between the Reds and Giants, is represented by ACES.
Byrd will add to a growing mix of outfield options for the Indians, who figure to open the season without Michael Brantley (at least for a couple of weeks) and are otherwise relying on a mix of Tyler Naquin, Rajai Davis, Lonnie Chisenhall and Collin Cowgill in addition to fellow non-roster invitees Will Venable, Robbie Grossman and Shane Robinson. On paper, Byrd would bring the most offensive upside of the bunch to serve as a platoon partner for the left-handed-hitting Chisenhall, who thrived in the outfield last year but has longstanding difficulty against left-handed pitching at the plate. Byrd has long been a thorn in the side of southpaw pitchers, and he continued that trend in 2015, hitting .271/.324/.496 against lefties.
Though Byrd was quite productive following an August trade to the Giants, his tenure in San Francisco ended with some degree of controversy. Playing in the final season of a two-year, $16MM contract last in 2015, Byrd needed to reach a total 550 plate appearances for an $8MM vesting option to trigger. Over the final few games of the season, the Giants relegated Byrd to the bench in favor of young outfielders Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson. As GM Bobby Evans explained at the time, the club planned to play Byrd on an everyday basis up until the club was mathematically eliminated from the postseason. If and when that occurred, the team would shift focus and use the remainder of the year to evaluate future options such as Parker and Williamson. Unfortunately, due to the length of time for which the Giants staved off elimination, that meant that Byrd ultimately fell just six plate appearances shy of having his option vest.
Now with the Indians, Byrd will hope to make the club and approximate the solid overall production he’s posted since a career renaissance with the Mets and Pirates in 2013. Since that rebound campaign, Byrd has batted a collective .268/.313/.469. Over the life of a 14-season career in the Majors, his cumulative batting line sits at .275/.329/.430 in nearly 6,000 plate appearances.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.