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Once upon a time, the Phillies traded away one of their players for an underwhelming return. Some fans claimed that it was a mistake, especially when that player became an All-Star with another team. Those fans couldn’t help but wonder what could have been. Some of them even held out hope that the team would finally find a way to re-acquire the player, but that seemed like a longshot.
Finally, the fans got what they want. In a surprise move, the Phillies reacquired their former player in free agency. And if you think this story seemed a whole lot more exciting three years ago when it was Cliff Lee being signed, you are not alone.
In a move predicted by few, and anticipated by even less, the Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd.
The signing was first reported on 94.1 WIP radio, and later confirmed by MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. According to ESPN’s Adam Rubin, the deal will be for two years and $16 million:
Byrd was originally drafted by the Phillies in the 1999 amateur draft. After an encouraging start to his career (He was fourth in Rookie of the Year voting in 2003), the Phillies soon grew disenchanted with him, and traded him to the Washington Nationals for Endy Chavez. (I told you that the return was underwhelming)
He’s had a decent career since then, playing for six different teams. He’s mixed in some solid years, and even made the National League All-Star team in 2010. It appeared as if his career was over after a disappointing 2012 season, but he had a resurgence in 2013, hitting a career high 24 home runs.
I’m skeptical of the deal. In theory, this provides the Phillies with exactly what they needed: A right-handed power hitter who can play all three outfield positions. But that depends on Byrd’s 2013 season being more representative of his current level of ability than 2012 was. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect Byrd to repeat a 24 home run season at age 36. Did they basically just find themselves an older, more expensive version of John Mayberry?
Perhaps this is just the first move, and there will be more transactions that will further shape the outfield for the 2014. But taken by itself, it’s hard to get too excited about this signing.