Byrd Returning to Phillies

byrdThe Phillies believe they found a right-handed bat today, when they announced they signed outfielder Marlon Byrd to a two-year, $16 million contract.

But what type of right-handed bat are they getting?

Byrd, 36, hit .291 with 24 home runs, 88 RBIs and an .847 OPS in 147 games last season with the Mets and Pirates. It was the best year of his career, but it also followed the worst year of his career. He hit a combined .210 with one home run, nine RBIs and a .488 OPS in 47 games with the Cubs and Red Sox in 2012 before he served a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s performance enhancing drug policy.

Byrd, whose deal includes a club/vesting option for 2016, could not find another job in baseball, so he headed to Mexico to play Winter Ball, where he resurrected his career before signing a Minor League deal with the Mets.

“We’re just looking for the best bang for our buck,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “We have a lot of holes to fill. Again, we won’t be able to fill them all from outside, but we’re trying to get the best value we possibly can.”

It remains to be seen if Byrd is a good value or not. He had a .353 batting average on balls in play this season, which is 28 points higher than his career average and 56 points higher than the big-league average in 2013. He also struck out a career-high 144 times.

Byrd’s deal raised some eyebrows at the GM Meetings in Orlando, Fla., because of the money and the fact the Phillies moved so aggressively. But Mets general manager Sandy Alderson he wasn’t surprised by the deal.

“Not really,” he said. “Given what we’ve seen so far, I wasn’t surprised. Had you asked me the question three or four months ago, I might have been surprised. But not in light of what’s happened since the end of the season. There haven’t been that many signings, but this one is consistent with the others.”

If Byrd can replicate or come close to his 2013 success – his .786 OPS from 2007-13 ranks 94th out of 233 hitters with 2,000 or more plate appearances in that span – Amaro will have somebody to hit behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. If Byrd regresses the Phillies will remain without the right-handed power bat they lost when Jayson Werth signed with the Nationals following the 2010 season. (The Phillies acquired Hunter Pence in July 2011 only to trade him to the Giants a year later.)

It is unclear how Byrd’s arrival affects outfielders John Mayberry Jr., who is eligible for salary arbitration, or Darin Ruf, although Amaro said he assumes he will tender Mayberry a contract.

Byrd, who the Phillies selected in the 10th round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, at least should upgrade the outfield defense, which has been a priority for Amaro. The Fielding Bible awarded Byrd +12 runs saved in 1,168 innings last season.

The Phillies had other free-agent options for a right-handed-hitting outfielder, like Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran, Michael Morse and Corey Hart. Cruz has more pop than Byrd, but he served a 50-game suspension this season and is below average defensively. Beltran is a switch-hitter with pop and a fine defender, but he turned down the $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals. He could command at least a two-year, $30 million deal. Hart missed last season because of injuries, and while the Phillies have loved Morse in the past he has a lengthy injury history and struggled last season with the Mariners and Orioles.

If Byrd’s contract is $8 million next season, it already pushes the Phillies’ payroll to $130.5 million for just nine players: Cliff Lee ($25 million), Howard ($25 million), Cole Hamels ($22.5 million), Utley ($15 million), Jonathan Papelbon ($13 million), Jimmy Rollins ($11 million), Byrd, Mike Adams ($7 million) and Miguel Gonzalez ($4 million). That does not include money they must spend for a catcher, starting pitcher, a reliever or two, plus pay arbitration-eligible players like Ben Revere, Antonio Bastardo, Kyle Kendrick, Kevin Frandsen and Mayberry.

So thoughts that Byrd’s signing is a “depth” move seem misguided, unless the Phillies make a trade. Amaro said “it’s possible” they could still try to add another outfielder. They could trade leftfielder Domonic Brown or Revere to fill some needs. Otherwise, at the moment it looks like Brown, Revere and Byrd in the 2014 outfield.

Amaro said he would be OK with that.

“Yes I would,” he said. “Much more comfortable than I was in the past.”

Is Byrd enough to improve an offense that ranked 26th in scoring, 24th in on-base percentage and 21st in slugging percentage? No, but Byrd is considered a complimentary piece to Howard, Utley and Rollins. The Phillies have hitched their success to them.

Still, Amaro said they will continue to look at ways to improve offensively. That includes resigning free-agent catcher Carlos Ruiz. FOXSports.com reported Ruiz has received a two-year, $20 million offer. The Rockies have expressed interest in Ruiz, but the Denver Post reported it is not the Rockies. Amaro has said they are looking at alternatives.

“We’ve got some holes to fill,” Amaro said. “Obviously, we had a very poor year last year. We have to get healthy No.1. We have to get production out of the guys that are our core players. We have to get Revere back and healthy, we have to get Howard back and healthy. Those are key elements of our offense.”

49 Comments

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I like the deal. Short-term, and you get what you need. a power bat and good OF glove. Nice start to FA, RAJ. It’s do or die time…

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Terrific, who’s next Jeff Stone? Rube’s strategy is to get Todd Pratt back to be the catcher, resign Brett Myers to be our #3 starter and add Ryan Madsen as a bullpen guy. All our problems solved. It’ll be like Alumni weekend every game.
Note to Monty: I won’t be crossing the threshold of CBP until Amaro is gone. I’ve lived to see both world championships in person but don’t expect to see another in my lifetime. The GM sucks, the talent evaluation keeps missing the mark and your scouting dept. is a joke.

I’d like to see this post printed word for word on the back page of the daily news in big block letters.

Great post Jimmymack.

I agree..Just what the Phillies need ..more has been or never was’s

if he plays center and moves Revere to the bench and they sign another corner OF like Cruz then I am okay with it.

Another juicer. Be still my heart.

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Please tell me that Byrd will be our 4th outfielder/bench bat.

He’s better than Mayberry, I’ll give him that much.

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I’m OK with this if it means not counting on Mayberry Jr. to be an everyday outfielder. He has proven that he will not hit consistently.

This move dpends on two things. If the team has realized it has no chance in ’14 and is therefore operating on a 2 year plan, this makes sense. Divide up needs and sign a long term pitcher and corner OF this year and fill out Catcher and 4th OF cheap, then I’m in. If this is RAJs answer for RHB/ corner OF then it sucks

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update: If the terms are correct; 2 yrs at 16 million, then this is a huge mistake. He’s overpaying by about 7 milllion a year for a one year wonder who is a 4th OF. Not what we needed

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4th OFers don’t make $8 million per. This is apparently Ruben’s answer to the RH bat question. And who would he be negotiating against to pay Byrd that kind of money besides himself?
We have no chance. Ruben is creating a wasteland that will last for years.

I don’t know what to make of this. Better than overpaying Nelson Cruz for more years, I guess, but hardly the answer. If they are going to overpay somebody for 2 years, why can’t it be Beltran?

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I think outside of the left handed right handed thing I’d rather see if Darin Ruf can develop. this makes no sense.

The phils tried to trade Mike Schmidt after half a season in which he hit 18 home runs, I just hope that they don’t make the same stupid mistake with Darin Ruf.

Come on! A 36 year old guy signed for two years and $16 million? How does this differ from what Ruin has been doing for the last 5 years? What has Ruin the smuck learned from his past mistakes? Only a fool would pay to see this circus act again and again and again.

he is the right age for ruin, also i think ruin is starting to panic, i think he knows he i a lame duck gm

*schmuck*

Looks like Chooch will be an ex-Phillie. Rumors say he will sign with the Rockies for 3 years and $22 million. Wow.

I would much rather have Ruiz at 3 yrs, 22 million and D. Ruf then Byrd at 2 yrs, 8 million. Amaro has a penchant for overbidding himself for players who have had there best years and are at the end of their career.

Addendum to previous comment–that is 2 years at 8 million a year= 16 million.

this past season amaro got the team up to 89 games in the loss column. i think he is shooting for a ben franklin. do not be shocked if he does not bring back polanco and if ruiz jumps ship he may try to talk schneider into making a comeback.

Carole Reggiano said it best above, this latest signing is something out of the twilight zone. Hopefully Byrd will go out there and prove this wrong. I think Ruben tried to throw some diamonds on this duck and hopes he turns into a swan for the Phillies, but it is doubtful. No one else seemed to want him and a much cheaper price.

Since the low-risk, high-reward route hasn’t paid off for him, Rubicon has decided to go the high-risk, low-reward route to see if that works…….

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The average age of the team keeps getting older. This move tells you that management has no confidence in the farm system and must rely on end of career players to try and compete. Time to start think YOUNG!!!

RAJ taking a page from Homer on recycling players?

Like Byrd however he is another older player should have made a more solid effort at Michael Borne. RAJ signed him because no one else wanted him.Nice start RAJ toward another losing season.

If Marlon Byrd doesn’t work out, the Phillies have Darin Ruf waiting in the wings. Even as a part-timer, Ruf could get plenty of work in ’14, filling in for Howard and for Byrd. Thus he should be ready to go if it’s necessary to replace Byrd in the outfield full-time.

why does amaro fills in the blanks with blanks. 2012 he brings us qualls, nix, wigginton etc. 2013 we get wells, mcdonald, adams, lannan, etc. ;so now for 2014 he starts off with marlon byrd. who is next maybe bruce chen, corey hart, austin kearns, so we can go from 80 to 89 to 95-100 loses for 2014.doesn’t amaro realize that bottom fishing is not going to get him to 500 let alone the playoffs. nothing against marlon byrd, he would fit in fine if we had a solid team and were just looking to fill in a few sports, but this mob needs a major make over

Is Darin Ruff just going away? What are the phillies planning for him?

Good question, Gary. I get the impression that the phanbase believes in Ruff more than the F.O. does. I’m sure if the Phils could have dealt him for GianCarlo, they would have. I read on Philly,com that Ruben is trying to trade for Toronto’s Bautista and Dom’s name was mentioned as part of the trade. Hopefully, it was just a stupid rumor. I’d love to see Bautista in a Phillie uniform but NOT for Dom Brown. NO WAY!

The stupid rumor has been squashed, thank God……

Howard Eskin specializes in stupid rumors.

Hey Todd

They better re-sigb Ruiz instead of worrying about another has been or never was outfielder

Marlon Byrd for $8 m at 35 years old. I hope it works for a few years. What about the future? Try to get Matt Szcsur from the Cubs minor leagues. He is a local kid (Lower Cape May HS & Villanove). He can run (42 SB) and can hit (.290 BA). Worth a look!

If he isn’t at least 35 years old, Rubey ain’t interested….

Maybe Shane put in a good word for Chooch and the Redsox are in the hunt for his services. Now that Chooch can legally take Adderal, I think he’s worth at least what Byrd got. The thing is: Ithink the Phils will be screwed without him. New pitching coach and new starting catcher will be too much for the young guns to handle. They will back to square one by the end of the Grapefruit League, me thinks:o{

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