The Reds have found their left fielder. They have acquired Marlon Byrd from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for RHP Ben Lively (Ken Rosenthal). Rosenthal later tweeted that the Phillies will be sending significant cash to the Reds as well.
Byrd will turn 38 in August. He’s signed to an $8 million contract for 2015 with an $8 million vesting option in 2016 if he makes 550 plate appearances this year. He hit .264/.312/.445 with 25 home runs for the Phillies in 637 plate appearances in 2014. His run creation production was 9 percent above average (wRC+ 109) and he earned 1.9 WAR according to FanGraphs and 2.6 WAR according to Baseball-Reference. His defense is negative as is his base running. His walk-rate is a terrible 5.5%. Sadly, he’ll fit right in with the free-swinging, no-plate discipline philosophy.
Doug Gray ranks Lively the #11 prospect in the Reds system.
Byrd is projected to hit .243/.292/.391 this year (wRC+ 89) with 17 homers.
Byrd is obviously at the age where rapid decline is likely. A big warning sign are his accelerating strikeout numbers: 16% (2011), 20% (2012), 25% (2013), 29% (2014).
Bottom line: The Reds didn’t pay much in terms of prospects or cash for their left fielder. Byrd is unlikely to see his 2016 option vest unless he has a great year for the Reds. So this is probably a 1-year rental. The direct cost is low, but the opportunity cost is high. Instead of acquiring an above average offensive player, the Reds settled for what they could get. If you were looking for a cheap fit, this is it. If you were looking for an impact player, Byrd isn’t.
Through a combination of payroll constraints and lack of aggressiveness/creativity – the Reds waited until both the trade and free agent market had become depleted. They got boxed in and made a low-cost, low impact move. Walt Jocketty had said the Reds wanted a hitter with good on base percentage and traded for the opposite of that.
If this is the extent of the Reds offseason (yes, they still have relief pitchers to overpay), it’s pretty uninspiring.