In May, I wrote about Marlon Byrd’s $8 million option for 2016 that vests if the Reds outfielder accumulates 550 plate appearances.
Math: The Reds have played 107 games. Byrd missed 15 of those (6/3-18) on the disabled list. He’s been eligible to play in 92 games and the Reds have used him in 85 of those games, 83 as a starter. Byrd has accumulated 348 plate appearances. That means the Reds have given Byrd 3.78 plate appearances per game (348/92). The Reds have 55 games remaining. If they play him at the same rate, Byrd will accumulate 208 more PA (55*3.78), for a total of 556.
Note to Reds: 556 > 550.
Hopefully someone at GABP is keeping track of this on a legal pad. Or maybe they’ve assigned someone in the Analytics Department to put a pebble in his/her pocket for every one of Byrd’s plate appearances, and count them every now and then.
Any of three factors could intervene to prevent the option from vesting:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Byrd could suffer an injury. He turns 38 in three weeks, so that wouldn’t be a shocking development. It wouldn’t even take a DL stint for him to fall short of the trigger. Given current usage rates when healthy, if Byrd misses just 3-4 games with a non-serious injury, that would be sufficient for him to fall short. It’s bad form to cheer for injuries, though.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ The Reds could bench Byrd more frequently in September when permissible rosters expand. Bryan Price has given Byrd one game off out of every 10. That projects to 5 more games on the bench for the rest of the season. The Reds would have to be nuts to not give their young outfielders playing time when they can. Ã‚Â If they don’t, it would mean they are actually trying to make Byrd’s option vest. In other words, trying to get themselves fired.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ ByrdÃ‚Â could pass through waivers and be traded before August 31. This is conventional wisdom and I hope it’s right. But Byrd is making just $1.33 million per month and the Phillies are paying half of that. If a team makes a waiver claim on Byrd – say to block him from a competitor, with no intention of trading for him – they would gamble $1 million or less, depending on when the Reds put Byrd through the waiver process. That blocking maneuver is common and would put at risk what amounts to chump change for a team competing for a postseason slot. So I’m not convinced Byrd goes unclaimed. If a team does make a claim, the Reds could let Byrd go, which they should absolutely do. In fact, they should send Byrd’s contract to his new team by having Billy Hamilton run it over (he’s fast, you see) and include a few pints of Graeter’s as thanks. But face it, that doesn’t sound like the Reds. Well, the Billy Hamilton part does. The smart part doesn’t.
The option trigger could make Byrd more difficult to trade.Ã‚Â The Reds could have prevented the situation from getting this close in the first place by resting Byrd one more game per month.
I haven’t seen any comments from the front office about Byrd’s future with the Reds.Ã‚Â With the general manager already pointing to 2017, it would be folly of enormous magnitude for the Reds to allow Byrd’s 2016 contract to become guaranteed. He would play next year at age 38-39. When you account for his defense, Byrd has barely been a net positive player (0.4 fWAR, 0.9 bWAR) this year.
That $8 million could be put to better use. Like building a third scoreboard that displays the team’s batting average on each day of the week. Or shooting the money into the sun.