Rumors of a potential trade involving the departure of veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd to the Mariners, Reds or Royals have gathered pace recently. Reports state that Byrd, 36, would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to join the west coast club.
It has been quite an illustrious career for Marlon Byrd, with a previous spell in Philadelphia from 2002-2005, was traded to the Nationals, and his since appeared for the Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox and Mets before finally returning to Philly for the 2014 season.
Nobody can argue with the determination and mental strength of Marlon Byrd. His career began with misfortune, suffering a right leg injury that almost required amputation, from which he had to begin a two-year rehabilitation process. What got him through it? His dedication to baseball.
Since then he has been a bit of a journeyman, but has contributed at every ball club he has been at, justifying to an extent the Phillies decision to give him a two year deal worth $16million including a club option for 2016 based on plate appearances.
So far in his Philadelphia return, Byrd has been nothing short of fantastic. Of course it is down to opinion, but in a first half that has yielded little encouragement for the Phanatic Phaithful, he has been a key contributor on offense.
In 361 plate appearances through 103 games Byrd has been hitting .269, which is actually 22 points lower than what he achieved in 2013 and 10 less than his career average of .279. Nevertheless, in a struggling line-up he has stood out as being a key asset, with the 6th best batting average and the seventh best OBP. If you were to be critical, but there is no denying his importance in the line-up.
Power has also been a major strong point of his game, hitting a team leading and NL-4th 20 homers through the first 104 games, helping him drive in 60 RBIs, second only to Ryan Howard.
At 36 years old and with 1353 Major League games under his belt, Byrd must provide a mentor-style role in the dressing room. His experience and presence must provide the perfect model for the young players to follow. Sure, he’s had his past with PEDs, but for a player who has such a story and career span, his influence must be pretty big.
The three interested parties in Byrd’s services are Seattle, Cincinnati and Kansas City. Whether it will be a good deal or not remains to be seen, but it is likely that young prospects would be traded by the Mariners, Reds and Royals. Amaro Jr. has been under fire a lot, but the acquisition of Byrd is one move he has got right. He now needs to make sure that the return is at the very least acceptable as the Phillies look to build for the future.
From the Mariners, Amaro Jr. should be looking at righty pitcher Taijuan Walker, who has impressed going 4-1 with a 3.76 ERA at Triple-A Tacoma. He has MLB experience, having gone 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA in 3 games with the Mariners this year.
Third baseman DJ Peterson and shortstop Chris Taylor are possible infield candidates, with Peterson hitting .297 over 26 games at AA Jackson, and Taylor hitting .250 following his recent promotion to the MLB (he hit .328 in 75 AAA games earlier this season).
In the outfield, Gabriel Guerrero is highly rated, currently at Advanced-A High Desert Mavericks hitting .312 through 97 games.
At Cincinnati, the Phillies should look no further than pitcher Robert Stephenson, who has an MLB ETA of 2015 and has gone 5-6 in 19 games started at AA Pensacola, with a 4.12 ERA. Carlos Contreras would be another pitcher to look at, this time a lefty with 10.1 Majors innings under his belt and an impressive 1.74 ERA.
21-year-old Yorman Rodriguez is a good outfield trade candidate, hitting .245 at Pensacola in 3260 at-bats, but his maturity is understood to be an issue.
The Reds are stacked with pitching prospects, and the only other position player worth taking note of in my opinion is catcher Tucker Barnhart, who has played 12 Majors games this year hitting .152, but his athleticism behind the plate is the strong point of his game.
Finally, we come to the Kansas City Royals, who along with Cinci have been the most active in Byrd rumours recently. In all honesty, their system isn’t stocked with hugely promising and performing prospects, but there are a few guys I like. Kyle Zimmer is a highly talented pitching prospect, although the righty hasn’t pitched yet in 2014 due to tendinitis and a lat injury. As a result, I don’t think pitching should be a trade target, as other pitchers Manaea, Almonte and Adam have really struggled to begin 2014.
Jorge Bonifacio is a potential outfield trade target, hitting .225 with a .297 OBP in 101 games at Double-A. At just 21, Cheslor Cuthbert is a great third baseman with an MLB estimate of next season, having hit .268 in 88 games at AA. Last but not least, and the main target for me, should be Christian Colon, a second baseman who has hit .333 in 6 Majors games this season, as well as .304 in 84 AAA games. He could perhaps, if acquired, push the Utley trade along the conveyor belt slightly.
To summarize, it’s evident that the Phillies should be able to work out a deal and get a nice return if they decide to ship Byrd. I personally would be sad to see him go, but Amaro Jr. has decisions to make, and while building for the distant future doesn’t seem to be the aim, there are enough prospects with approaching MLB estimates to whet the appetite.