The 2014 season has been a study in attrition and underperformance for much of the Cincinnati Reds’ roster, but they nevertheless will come out of the All-Star break tomorrow only one-and-a-half games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National League Central division. If the Reds are serious about making the playoffs, though, there are some soft areas of the roster that could use bolstering, chief among them left field and offensive production in general. One candidate who might help in both categories is Philadelphia Phillies’ outfielder Marlon Byrd.
Byrd, who helped the Pittsburgh Pirates reach the postseason for the first time in two decades last year as a trade-deadline acquisition, signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Phils in the off-season. Although he is 37 years old, Byrd has maintained his production in Philly, smashing 18 home runs and posting and OPS+ of 119 in 94 games so far this season. He has spent the majority of that time (92 games) in right field, and the Reds already have Jay Bruce camped there, so Byrd would not be an absolutely perfect fit. Nevertheless, Byrd has played in left in his career, and the Reds are verging on desperation in terms of gleaning some production from their corner outfielders, so he is worthy of consideration by general manager Walt Jocketty.
With Joey Votto down for the foreseeable future, Byrd could also slot in at first base, at least occasionally. He would give the Reds some flexibility and, more importantly, some pop to help carry them through the second half. With about $3 million still owed to him, Byrd is not cheap, but he is also cost-controlled through next season and has a club option for 2016. If the Reds nabbed him, and he worked out, they could keep him or trade him in the off-season.
Time’s a-wasting as the non-waiver trade deadline rockets towards us on July 31, and the Reds need to move soon if they’re going to do so. Byrd will be in high demand as one of the few power bats on the market — Tim Keeney at BleacherReport has him tied to the Seattle Mariners — but Cincinnati should definitely consider throwing their hat in the ring to acquire the slugging outfielder.