Phillies Sign Marlon Byrd to 2 Year Deal

As first reported by WIP (over my snarky skepticism), and confirmed by Ken Rosenthal, the Phillies have inked outfielder Marlon Byrd to a two year contract. Adam Rubin reports the total dollar amount at $16 million.

It’s not an offseason until Ruben Amaro comes flailing into the free agent market like a freshly birthed giraffe. And we didn’t have to wait too long this go around. The timing is, to say the least, distressing. Handing Byrd something substantially more than a low risk one off affair long before any of the most coveted outfielders in free agency are off the table suggests either that Amaro is establishing some cost certainty before pursuing an even less advisable contract, or plans on bestowing upon Byrd the Delmon Young Memorial “Inexplicably Penciled-In Starter” Prize for 2014.

This is a shame, because there is probably something left in Marlon Byrd, were he deployed properly (stop me if you’ve heard this about a Phillies acquisition before). He’s fresh off a career year, having, at age 35, posted a .291/.336/.511 line in 579 plate appearances while manning primarily right field for the Mets and Pirates in 2013. His 136 wRC+ would have, sadly, led all qualified 2013 Phillies hitters.

Without any noticeable improvement in line drive rate, he boosted his 2013 BABIP to .353, which, I think it’s fair to say, is not representative of his contact skill and speed. If Ruben inked him while dreaming on another four win season from the outfielder, he will be disappointed.

This would theoretically be OK depending on Byrd’s role. From 2011 to present, he has managed a .351 wOBA against left-handed pitching, walking and striking out at roughly a league-average rate, and posting a .189 ISO against them. Last season, he hit .344/.376/.583 against southpaws. Considering the recent consternation about the lack of right-handed power in the lineup, Byrd is a pretty decent platoon candidate. Though he wants for a plausible partner. Domonic Brown is almost certainly a full-time starter in 2014, and Mayberry, if the Phillies are intent upon keeping him around, has the same platoon tendencies. Even if the Phillies wanted to attempt something creative with the lefty Ben Revere, he has only exhibited an insignificant or slightly inverted split.

The signing would seem to indicate, thankfully, that the Phillies don’t see Darin Ruf as a full time corner outfielder (dare I to hope that they platoon Ruf with Ryan Howard at first base? No, I dare not). It also appears that Ruben will avoid the potential pit falls of larger contracts for corner outfielders such as Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltran. By Todd Zolecki’s reckoning, the Phillies have about $76.5 million in headroom under the luxury tax threshold, not yet including arbitration salaries for 4 players, 3 of whom will certainly be tendered. So while the salary, as well as Byrd’s quick acceptance, implies a starting role, it may not be the largest 2014 payout issued by the team. If Ruben is still intent on improving the offense, considering the current roster and the market, center field and catcher are two obvious places remaining at which to do so.

Then again, it’s possible that Amaro sees this as a hard day’s work, re-signs Carlos Ruiz, and rolls with an outfield of Brown, Revere, and Byrd. In which case, one concerning and all too likely outcome is that Byrd’s bat tumbles back below league average, Revere runs himself into the ground trying to accommodate Marlon’s listless stumbling in the corner, and the Phillies make no real net improvement in the 8 man lineup over 2013. In which case, there is a lot of work to be done on the pitching staff.

On the face of it, this looks like yet another potentially useful role player who will be overused and overcompensated by a team that is flush with them — one for whom 1 year, $4 million dollars would have been far more appropriate. But we can’t know for sure yet. And then again, there is this to consider:

Pessimism can be a bit more carefree. Stay tuned for possible complementary moves.

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20 comments

  1. Oskar

    November 12, 2013 12:51 PM

    “It’s not an offseason until Ruben Amaro comes flailing into the free agent market like a freshly birthed giraffe.”

    Other than the absence of a hyphen between free and agent, and freshly and birthed, Huzzah! Magnificent! Best simile ever!

  2. Eric D

    November 12, 2013 12:53 PM

    I always was someone who would stick up for RAJ but after this signing I just can’t do it anymore. He just signed someone who will be 39 at the end of the contract. I thought he wanted a power bat? Byrd has only hit over 12 HRs 2x and in a time where power now goes down as you get older (not like it used to) I would bet the house that he doesn’t come anywhere close to the 24HRs he hit last year. RAJ YOU SUCK!!!!

  3. Pencilfish

    November 12, 2013 12:59 PM

    On the surface, it does seem overpay, though it is only a 2-year deal, assuming the rumors are correct. If even Choo only means an extra 5 wins, then clearly an obvious (and realistic given the current roster) area to improve is SP and RP. The team can’t win that many games anyway if it gives up 749 runs in a season.

  4. Ryan

    November 12, 2013 01:03 PM

    He’ll be 37 when it’s over, but still…Ruin Tomorrow Jr. Why? This is like Laynce Nix all over again. One hot, BABIP driven, season at 35 and we give him a two year contract averaging $8mm per? WTFH!?!?

    Carlos Beltran only made $5 million more per season for the last two seasons. Does anyone think that Byrd has any chance to even come close to Carlos Beltran numbers? Anyone? Can he even get that production in two full seasons?

  5. Pete

    November 12, 2013 01:04 PM

    What I hate about this signing…

    1. It shows Ruben learned NOTHING by jumping the gun on Papelbon and others. This deal could have been had in a month or two, and probably for less.

    2. Marlon Byrd will be the oldest regular on the team in 2014.

    3. Byrd does not address OBP problem.

    4. The 2nd year is not a team option. This being a 2-year deal gets me more than anything else.

    What I like about this deal…

    1. Byrd has averaged 3.2 bWAR over his last 6 healthy years. Even a 2.0 bWAR/yr for these 2 years is a significant upgrade over JMJ and others at a fair cost.

    2. No draft pick compensation.

    3. Byrd appears to be a decent defensive outfielder. The 2013 Phillies had the worst defense in team history – Byrd is a positive step, especially over Ruf and Delmon.

    4. There is no “no-risk” outfielder in the FA class. I don’t think I’ll like any of the deals Cruz, Granderson, Ellsbury, Choo et al will sign. Have to look at it through that lens. I’d much prefer this deal over 4/60 for Cruz or something. That being said, I’d be curious to see if they go after Granderson as well. Rollins, Utley, Brown, Howard, Byrd, Granderson, Asche, Ruiz/Navarro

    Lots of time left in the off-season. Hard to judge this move on it’s own.

  6. Eric D

    November 12, 2013 01:06 PM

    Should have said he’ll be 38 at the end of the contract. My fault.

  7. Beez Nutz

    November 12, 2013 01:06 PM

    November 12th 2013

    and Im already hating baseball… jesus god

  8. Greg

    November 12, 2013 01:11 PM

    I guess that new stats guy hasn’t started work yet.

  9. Dante

    November 12, 2013 01:23 PM

    The stats guy is going to help with arbitration prep, not FA signings. I don’t mind this signing too much (preferable to Cruz or even Beltran, based on asking price and comp picks). But what the team does not need another 2 WAR player – you need some upside with this team, and they really have none. Will be interesting to see how they approach the pitching market. Another thing – I forsee Cruz having to settle on a 2 year deal, after he gets the Kyle Lohse treatment this offseason – waiting on him, potentially for a slightly higher contract (2 -$22 mil?), while giving up a draft pick, is probably a better move.

  10. Dante

    November 12, 2013 01:28 PM

    Re: the upside I mentioned, Chris Young could have been signed for cheaper, is a better defender, better baserunner, and similar hitting profile. He has more upside and could have been signed a month from now.

  11. Bubba0101

    November 12, 2013 01:58 PM

    I dont mind the signing much. If, in fact, we arent going to win for as long as Ryan Howard is occupying a premium spot on the field and in the line up, it doesnt matter who we put in right field. It’s only a two year deal and if we are out of it at the deadline then we can flip him for a prospect, theoretically, even though raj already showed last year that he didnt think that was a good idea with MYoung. If anything we can consider really positive about this signing is that it moves raj closer to being out of a job if Byrd shows up like his 2012 self. And for that alone, Ill take it.

  12. Mo

    November 12, 2013 02:06 PM

    Bubba

    AGREED!

  13. Larry

    November 12, 2013 02:39 PM

    This move makes me think that Dom Brown will be traded for Price. That might be wishful thinking though.

  14. Lucas

    November 12, 2013 04:16 PM

    David Price is 2 years away from being 30. NO AND NO! Sign Tanaka!!

  15. Anthony

    November 12, 2013 04:33 PM

    Byrd coming back to the Phillies to play a corner outfield spot will be easier than last time. The last time he was here, 10 years ago, he had Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu on either side of him. He must have felt like he was playing all three positions back then….I know, I know Burrell led the league in assists and Abreu won a gold glove. Plus he’ll once again get the positive, nurturing influence of his then manager Larry Bowa every day.

  16. Beez Nutz

    November 12, 2013 05:12 PM

    ummmm …. the CF out there now aint too great himself

    and in case you missed it, that nurturing manager is now back

    if you were being sarcastic, i missed it LOL (sorry if that was the case)

    This deal blows on many levels. Much rather woulda tried to get Morse or Hart on a 1 year deal for half the money and brought in Ellsbury.

  17. Beez Nutz

    November 12, 2013 05:16 PM

    And I know you guys probably do not like or want Ellsburry, but I disagree. In a park like CBP he’d be a great signing and I wouldn’t be shocked by him being a 20HR guy here.

  18. Cutter_Dykstra

    November 12, 2013 05:33 PM

    I think the best case scenario for this deal here would be to have Byrd test positive for PEDs… twice… before spring training.

  19. yizzit

    November 13, 2013 12:41 PM

    Deal comes with an $8 million option also: “The deal also includes an $8 million club/vesting option for 2016, which vests if he gets to 600 plate appearances in 2015, or if he totals 1,100 in 2014-15 and has at least 550 in 2015.”

    He’s played 150 games once, 140 twice. He’s over 35. He’s being paid to start. This is horrendous.

  20. yizzit

    November 13, 2013 12:43 PM

    Which looks good for the option to not vest, but we are not paying him $8 million to not have him try to reach those PAs. He’s going to start

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