On Thursday, news broke of waiver trade deal that sent outfielder Marlon Byrd to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for minor league pitcher Stephen Johnson.
This match made too much sense not to happen, even before Hunter Pence hit the DL with an oblique injury. The Giants needed a power-hitting outfielder on the cheap, and Byrd fit the bill. Even more exciting is the fact that GM Bobby Evans was able to pry the vet from Cincinnati without giving up a top prospect.
With Byrd now officially in orange and black, San Francisco’s roster appears to be set for the stretch drive. How much will Byrd contribute to the race for October, and what are some facts fans should know about the Giants’ latest deadline dandy?
Let’s do this.
The important stuff
Byrd is a true veteran
Byrd’s played in the MLB for 14 years with nine different ball clubs including the Giants. Before joining the Reds, he had a second stint with the Phillies—the team that drafted him. His best years are scattered between 2007 (when he joined the Rangers) and 2013 (split between the Mets and the Pirates).
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This marks the fifth time Byrd’s been traded, and the second time at the deadline. In 2013, Byrd was acquired by the Pirates and helped power them to their first playoff bid in over 20 years.
Byrd can bash with the best of them
Byrd’s on pace for his third 20-home run season in as many years, and this one might be the most impressive considering he’s missed some time. Byrd’s power developed very late into his career, as he failed to tally more than 10 homers until he was 32 years of age.
As former Reds teammate Mike Leake said of him, Byrd has a classic case of “old-man strength.”
Byrd will start…for now
Byrd will immediately be inserted into the Giants’ starting lineup, batting fifth or sixth—the prototypical high-power, low-average spots. He’s played almost exclusively in left field this year, and will remain at that position for San Francisco, allowing Nori Aoki to slide over into right (his more natural position) until Hunter Pence gets healthy.
If and when that happens, Byrd will become the team’s fourth or fifth outfielder and top pinch-hitter off the bench.
Byrd’s other stats are concerning
While his power is great, Byrd is slashing a meager .237/.286/.448 this season with 101 strikeouts in just 359 at-bats (compared to 23 walks). Defensively, Byrd isn’t Michael Morse/Travis Ishikawa bad in left, but he’s in the lower tier of qualified MLB outfielders in UZR.
Byrd won’t cost the Giants much money
While 550 plate appearances would lock Byrd in for $8 million next season, spot starts for Justin Maxwell, Juan Perez and a returning Angel Pagan should prevent him from reaching that threshold. If other injuries pop up in the outfield, though, things could get interesting in the final week of the season.
Byrd almost had his right leg amputated in college
A nerve injury almost cost Byrd his leg, but three operations and two years of rehab allowed him to continue his baseball pursuits.
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Byrd was top five in Rookie of the Year voting
That was thanks to an outstanding first season in which he hit .303 with seven home runs, 11 stolen bases and 86 runs scored. Unfortunately, 2003 was the year of Dontrelle (Willis, for those of you who forgot).
Byrd was an All-Star back in 2010
It might not have been Byrd’s best overall season, but 2010 was the year he was chosen as the Cubs’ lone representative.
Byrd has played most of his career in center
Outside of some corner-outfield work with the Rangers, Byrd was a pure center fielder for the first decade of his career. He made the move to right in 2013 with the Mets, and shifted over to left this year with the Reds.
Byrd will prevent Bumgarner from pinch-hitting
Or, at least, I hope so.