Today, Marlon Byrd signed a two year contract with the Phillies with a third year vesting option. There had been speculation that the Mets would look to re-acquire Byrd, after trading him with John Buck to the Pirates for Vic Black and Dilson Herrera. Byrd’s signing with Philadelphia has spawned some anger from the Mets’ faithful (on Twitter and sports radio), who have taken it as an indication of upcoming inactivity this winter.
Before assuming the worst, let’s take a look at what really happened today.
The Mets chose not to match the $8 million per year for two years (and vesting third year option) that Byrd received from the Phillies. Byrd, who will be 37 next year, put up a triple slash of .291/.336/.511 in 2013 (combined with the Mets and Pirates).
Those statistics represent an incredible improvement over 2012, when his slash line was .210/.243/.245 with Boston and the Cubs. What will Byrd do in 2014? That’s a huge question mark. Turning 37 in 2014, it’s likely that he will experience a decline, and if not next year, certainly in the second year of his contract.
Now to address the Mets’ apparent unwillingness to spend this winter, and the perceived lack of a plan.
Before jumping to that conclusion, let’s understand that Byrd may no longer be an everyday player. And spending $8 million on someone who may serve as a fourth outfielder may not be financially prudent when there are numerous holes to fill.
The Mets need to spend wisely, especially if they want to compete for higher value free agents, such as Curtis Granderson. The $8 million that went to Byrd would be better spent on Granderson, or a free agent shortstop or starting pitcher.
Marlon Byrd was a very pleasant surprise for the 2013 Mets. Sandy Alderson flipped him to the Pirates at the just the right time, as the Pirates were in need of a right-handed hitting outfielder. Alderson may have turned Byrd into a young, valuable bullpen piece in Black.
It would have been nice to have Byrd’s production and leadership back in 2014. However, the price had to be right, and it wasn’t. Let’s give Sandy Alderson a chance to get through this off-season before judging any particular move. If the Mets land Granderson and another quality outfielder, Byrd’s signing with Philadelphia will become a distant memory.