Aug 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Marlon Byrd (3) hits a single during the fourth inning of a game against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Back in the summer of 2014, when the Cincinnati Reds looked like they might be a contender, rumors swirled about their interest in Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd. As we detailed then, Byrd would have been a great addition for the stretch run, and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reports that the Reds are still trying to acquire the 37-year-old. What seemed like a solid idea in the July heat, though, looks misguided in the depths of winter.
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While Byrd would bring some much needed right-handed thump the the Reds’ lineup, adding him at this point in the franchise’s development doesn’t make much sense.
Cincinnati has already traded two-fifths of last year’s starting rotation (Alfredo Simon and Mat Latos), and general manager Walt Jocketty has said that he can’t take on any more payroll before the start of the season. That means the Reds would have to send players with enough salary commitments to the Phillies to offset Byrd’s salary — $8 million in 2015, and a guaranteed $8 million in 2016 if he reaches 550 plate appearances next summer.
The Phillies are rebuilding and would likely want young talent in return for Byrd.
Despite owner Bob Castellini’s protests to the contrary, though, the Reds are thisclose to rebuilding, too, if they’re not already in the process. Trading prospects for a year (or two) of Byrd would do little to help Cincinnati beyond 2015, and even next year’s success is dependent on bounce backs from Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey.
With or without Byrd, contending in 2015 is a long shot. For what it will cost to land him, the Reds would do well to choose “without.”