The first word of free-agent season goes to Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro. And the word is Byrd — slugging outfielder Marlon Byrd.
WIP radio in Philadelphia reported it first and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports confirmed that Byrd is heading to the Phillies. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com said the deal will be for two years. Adam Rubin of ESPN.com says the cost is $16 million.
Other than the Yankees re-signing Derek Jeter (and giving him a raise), Byrd to the Phillies is the first major personnel deal of the offseason.
Byrd hit .291/.336/.511 with 24 homers and 35 doubles for the Mets and Pirates in 2013, his finest season since breaking in with the Phillies in 2002.
A little over a year ago, Byrd was playing in Mexico, hoping it would lead to one more chance in Major League Baseball, which had suspended him for 50 games in 2012 after a positive test for a banned substance. He did get a chance, signing with the Mets and having a career year while being traded to the Pirates down the stretch and helping them in the playoffs.
And now, he's come full circle to the Phillies, who are trying to do major reconstruction after two hellaciously disappointing seasons.
UPDATE: Byrd isn't the only 36-year-old on the Phillies wish list!
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) November 12, 2013
Well, it's no Jacoby Ellsbury and such, but Byrd and Pierzynski have pizzaz!
Byrd might seem an odd fit for a team that's rebuilding, but if Byrd plays anything like he did in '13, he'll earn the contract. If he doesn't — and if the Phillies continue to tank — well, it will be just a little more for the next guy after Amaro to clean up. Hey, he's better than Delmon Young.
Amaro is playing a hunch that Byrd will be good enough to at least be a trading chip for later. He's also hedging his bet against the Phillies doing major reconstruction in a trade — which might or might not happen. If it doesn't happen, they're still going to need players. At $8 million a season, Byrd would be affordable.
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