The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired Marlon Byrd and John Buck from the New York Mets, according to Adam Rubin.
— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) August 27, 2013
We heard earlier that an unknown team claimed Marlon Byrd, and obviously that team is the Pirates. Joel Sherman speculated today that the Pirates could also be interested in Buck, due to their need for catching. I’m surprised that Byrd made it past the Reds and to the Pirates. I’m also surprised Buck was added, since he doesn’t really have the pitch framing skills that the Pirates go for.
No word yet on the players going back to New York. Byrd is only under control through the remainder of the 2013 season. Buck is also a free agent at the end of the year, so both are just rentals. Buck is making $6 M this year, so he will be owed about $1 M for the rest of the season. Byrd is making $700 K this year, so he’ll only cost a little over $100 K.
UPDATE 2:08 PM: Jon Heyman reports it’s for a minor leaguer and a PTBNL, and that the Pirates are getting cash in the deal.
Byrd and Buck plus cash go to pirates for a minor leaguer and a ptbnl.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) August 27, 2013
UPDATE 2:10 PM: Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports the player is Dilson Herrera.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 27, 2013
UPDATE 2:13 PM: Thoughts on the deal…
As I said this morning, the addition of Byrd will upgrade right field. It will also upgrade the bench with Jose Tabata moving out of the starting spot. That assumes Tabata continues to hit well. If Starling Marte can’t return sooner rather than later, then this adds a good replacement for him.
Buck is hitting for a .215/.285/.367 line in 368 at-bats this year, with 15 homers. He has power, but that’s pretty much it. At this point he’s another catcher for September, and maybe the guy they turn to in October. The Pirates can send Tony Sanchez down for ten days, and bring him back as the third catcher in September. They could also still bring up Kelly Shoppach and get creative with Sanchez or Martin elsewhere on the field.
Dilson Herrera was our number ten ranked prospect. He’s a Grade B hitter who has a great approach at the plate. He hasn’t had a dominant year at the plate this year in West Virginia, but he has held his own considering his young age. The Mets got a great return getting Herrera for one month of Byrd and Buck. The Pirates can afford to give that return, considering their system. They also don’t have any immediate middle infield needs (Herrera is only a second baseman), and they’ve got other options in the long-term like Alen Hanson and Jordy Mercer for the middle infield.
UPDATE 3:40 PM: James Santelli’s analysis…
The Mets won this trade. I doubt the Pirates really care.
GM Neal Huntington is out of the business of winning deals. He is currently in the business of winning a World Championship. Byrd and Buck will help the Pirates do that.
Don’t misunderstand — Huntington should not have made what he calls an “insane” trade to upgrade the Major League roster, like acquiring Bud Norris for Tyler Glasnow or Alex Rios for a list that reads “PICK THREE PROSPECTS FROM HERE.” This trade falls more under the category of what Huntington would call “stupid.”
It’s a stupid trade. It’s stupid to deal a top-100ish middle infield prospect and what could be a pretty good PTBNL for one month and however many playoff games of Marlon Byrd and John Buck. It’s dumb, and it’s easy to see Herrera as good, speedy second baseman for the 2016-2022 Mets.
The Pirates needed to add offense at that corner, as they have the NL’s worst offense from right field this season. Not that Byrd is a magic bullet, but he is an absolute upgrade there.
Let’s look at a sample of outfielders and their wRC+ since the start of 2010. Remember 100 is league average:
- Hunter Pence – 118
- Alfonso Soriano – 110
- Nate Schierholtz – 107
- David DeJesus – 107
- Garrett Jones – 105
- Raul Ibanez – 105
- Marlon Byrd – 104
- Jason Kubel – 102
- Jose Tabata – 101
- Alex Rios – 99
So let’s not overstate what Byrd brings to the Bucs. Byrd will destroy left-handed pitching (Tabata has virtually no platoon split) and be a good defensive outfielder, but he will also frustrate you by striking out a lot and walking a little. But he’s a good hitter, he will crush an important home run at some point, and he is coming to Pittsburgh during a career year and career second half (2nd in NL total bases since the All-Star Break).
Also, don’t discount that Buck is a decent home-run hitter. He offers little else offensively, but there are worse options to have as your backup catcher. Buck also rates strong defensively, including very good pitch-blocking ability, which is important to keep Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole breaking balls from becoming wild pitches. He was probably included for the Mets to shed his salary, but he could battle with Tony Sanchez in September to be the backup playoff catcher.
This is not a blockbuster Giancarlo Stanton acquisition. The Pirates lost the trade. But they had to lose. There were no trades out there that Huntington could “win” and also improve the 2013 team heading into October.
Byrd fills a need, especially as a lefty-masher in right. Herrera was valuable but, as the team’s No. 10 prospect, expendable in a deep system.
You lost, Neal. Well done.