Philadelphia Phillies Strike First Signing Marlon Byrd
The Philadelphia Phillies didn’t waste anytime diving into the free agent market on Day 2 of the General Managers meetings. The Phillies inked veteran Marlon Byrd to a 2 year $16 million dollar contract after he enjoyed a rebound season split between the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Byrd batted .291 and blasted 24 home runs with an .847 ops in 2013, a far cry from his 2012 season where he served a 50 game suspension for performance enhancing drugs and batted a modest .210. Byrd was ranked as the 24th best free agent according to MLBTradeRumors Top 50 Free Agent Tracker. This is what they had to say about Byrd prior to the signing.
[quote]24. Marlon Byrd – Pirates. Byrd, 36, hit a career low with a PED suspension in June 2012. The outfielder signed a minor league deal with the Mets and improbably became their starting right fielder. He hit five home runs in May and didn’t look back, mashing 24 overall between the Mets and Pirates. A two-year deal in the $15MM range seems possible. If a contract can’t be hammered out with the Pirates, the Royals, Orioles, Mariners, Phillies, Rockies, or Giants could make sense.[/quote]
The 36-year old Byrd has played for 7 teams in his 12-year major league career posting career highs in home runs, OPS and SLG last season. The Pirates acquired Byrd from the Mets for the playoff drive and he performed admirably batting .318 with 3 home runs in 30 games for the Bucs. Byrd also batted .364 in 6 playoff games for the Pirates before they were eliminated by the St.Louis Cardinals. The Pirates would have kept Byrd around but it was evident they were not going to have the funds available to secure the services of Byrd after his successful 2013 campaign.
The Phillies finished fourth in National League East last season with a 73-89 record and appear poised to improve on that record early on. Byrd will add a nice veteran presence to the Phillies, crushes lefties and wont cost them a draft pick. They must now pray that the 2013 Byrd shows up to camp and not the 2012 version. Regardless, the Phillies struck first in the free agent pool plucking the player they coveted most.