Aug 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Marlon Byrd (3) hits a two run home run during the seventh inning of a game against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Nationals 8-4. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Back in the summer, when the Cincinnati Reds were (maybe) looking for help to beef up their offense, one of the hottest names on the block was Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Marlon Byrd. There were even trade rumors involving the Reds bringing in Byrd as a left fielder, but both trade deadlines past with no movement. More than three months later, the Reds still need offense, the Phillies are still rebuilding and Byrd, according to Jonathan Tannenwald at Philly.com, is once again the subject of trade speculation.
Could the Reds still be a possible destination for the veteran?
Why He’s Available
Byrd is available this winter for the same reason he was this summer: he plays for the Phillies, and every Phillie is available.
Beyond that, Byrd is one of the few guys on the free agent or trade market with any pop in his bat, so Philly can probably get a decent return for him.
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Why He Fits for the Reds
While he has spent the past few seasons as the Phils’ primary right fieler, Byrd has played in a chunk of games at left field over his career, and LF is where Cincinnati could use help the most. Well, that’s almost true: where the Reds REALLY need help is in the lineup, and Byrd has hit 49 home runs over the last two seasons while slashing well above the league average. His power numbers took a dip in the second half last season, but some of that may have been from the letdown of NOT being traded to a contender.
Why He Might NOT Fit for the Reds
Of course, you can’t discount the fact that the post-All-Star drop-off may have been related to age and fatigue. Byrd is 37 years old and has 1400+ Major League games under his belt, so the season represents a lot of wear and tear for him. Nver a very selective hitter, Byrd’s batting average slipped to .265 in 2014, leaving him with a sickly .312 on-base percentage.
He’s all or nothing at the plate these days, and with the drop in power production late in 2014, there are concerns about his value heading into 2015.
Early indications are that Byrd is drawing a ton of interest across the game, and that could drive Philadelphia’s asking price out of the Reds’ range. Bringing in Byrd would be a nod toward one last playoff push for the current group of Cincy players, because 2016 is an even dicier proposition for Byrd’s health and production than 2015 is. As I’m pretty convinced that the Reds won’t be legitimate contenders in 2015, going all out for a geriatric maybe-slugger does not make a lot of sense.
Byrd could have been a wonderful rental player in July, and he might have even helped the Reds stay afloat and make a run to the post-season. That was a different team, though, and Byrd is not the right fit for a team with significant payroll issues and little flexibility
Thankfully, I expect the Reds to be out of the running for Byrd early in the trade season, due mainly to the level of interest that anyone with a pulse and a bat will generate at next week’s meeting of MLB general managers.
Byrd won’t be in a Phillies uniform in 2015, but he won’t be in Reds togs, either.