The Philadelphia Phillies got right down to business on their off-season wish-list today. They have officially reached an agreement with free agent OF Marlon Byrd with a two-year, $16 million contract including a club/ vesting option for 2016.
Byrd, who had a poor 2012 season, was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in August from the New York Mets and helped the Bucs to a NL Wild Card berth. Byrd had his best year in the big leagues as he batted .291 with 24 homers and 88 RBI.
Byrd started his career with the Phillies who drafted him in the 10th round of the 1999 Amateur Draft. Byrd played in Philadelphia from 2002-2004 plus 5 games in 2005. His performance with the Phils was unremarkable as he posted a .271 average with 13 homers and 79 RBI in 256 games.
Byrd has since bounced around from Washington, Texas, Chicago Cubs, Boston, Mets, and Pirates.
The Phillies seem to be trying to acquire lower-priced, middle-level players who can fill some of their needs. Their outfield was a patchwork of characters in 2013 and as a whole they struggled. Collectively the Phillies outfield finished 23rd in on-base percentage (.313), 19th in batting average (.259) and OPS (.720), 20th in RBIs and 27th in walks drawn. The lone bright spot was Domonic Brown, although Ben Revere was playing well before he was lost for the season with a foot injury in July.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters that the Phillies lack of power in the outfield was the primary reason for the Byrd signing:
“There’s not a lot of power out there. It’s pretty simple,” said Amaro. “It’s difficult to develop and it’s difficult to hold on to. Power is an issue and if our club can add some, that would be great.”
Pirates GM Neal Huntington was not surprised by the contract Byrd received:
“As you look at that outfield group, if you don’t want to give up your first-round pick, Marlon Byrd is arguably the best available outfield bat,” says Huntington. “He was one of the better players on the market.”
The Phillies attention will now turn to finding a catcher. Carlos Ruiz is the Phillies number one choice at this point, but if a resigning can’t occur, A.J. Pierzynski is reportedly the Phils’ backup option. Ruiz is being courted by several teams and has already been offered a two-year, $15 million contract by the Colorado Rockies.