(Photo Credit: David Hague)

Pirates Continue Scouting Phillies and Now Looking at Marlon Byrd

We’ve heard that the Pittsburgh Pirates have been scouting a lot of players on the Philadelphia Phillies. A.J. Burnett has been the big name, and that continued tonight, as they were one of a few teams in attendance tonight for Burnett’s start against the Mets and Bartolo Colon.

We’ve also heard them connected to Phillies lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo, which Jon Morosi repeats tonight. One new point of information is the news that the Pirates are looking at Marlon Byrd.

The news on Byrd doesn’t make much sense. The Pirates seem to be set in the outfield with Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco. Even if Marte had to miss some time, taking on Byrd doesn’t make sense in the long-term. He’s owed $8 M this year, $8 M next year, and has an $8 M option in 2016, which becomes guaranteed with 600 plate appearances in 2015, or 1,100 plate appearances in 2014-15, including 550 in 2015. He currently has 437 plate appearances this year, so it seems likely that he’ll only need 550 next year to get that option. The Pirates wouldn’t need Byrd for a potential two more years, with up to $16 M owed after this season.

It is possible that they could try to acquire him this year, then trade him in the off-season. But again, that only makes sense if Marte needs to miss a significant amount of time, and it also comes with the risk that the 36-year-old could get injured or have something else happen to lower his trade value.

The Pirates paid big to get Byrd last year, sending Dilson Herrera and Vic Black for one month of the outfielder. This year he is being paid much more, and the production is about half of what it was last year. I’ve got Byrd projected as a 2 win player this year. Giving him two wins in the next two years seems optimistic, considering his age, and the fact that he isn’t repeating his 2013 success in 2014. At 2 wins per year, and $8 M per year, he’d be worth $8.1 M in trade value on this market, using the inflated price paid for relievers. That would be a Grade B hitter and a Grade C pitcher, plus maybe a Grade C hitter thrown in. Basically, it would be similar to the price paid for Byrd last year, only this time around you’d be getting up to two years and two months.

Still, adding Byrd doesn’t make sense in the short-term or long-term, unless there’s something about Marte we don’t know, or unless there’s something else in the works that puts this all in perspective.

On the subject of trade values, last night I estimated what relief pitchers would be worth in the current market. Using the price paid for Joakim Soria, I’d estimate that Antonio Bastardo would be worth a Grade C pitching prospect — likely a lower level starter. That’s not horrible, considering the price that some of the other relievers who are available would be worth. At the same time, Bastardo isn’t doing that great, with a 4.17 ERA and a 4.23 xFIP. If we’re looking at xFIP to judge how he would do going forward, that’s slightly lower than Justin Wilson’s 4.13 xFIP.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • jaygray007

    i kind of like that they’re looking around for a right handed OF for depth purposes. I’d just rather it be a rental like Josh Willingham instead of Byrd. Platoon with Polanco (not something we wanna do long term. but i think it’s justified for his rookie year) and some awesome Marte and Cutch insurance. And worst case scenario, it’d be a mashing bench.

    i know a Minnesota writer said the Reds and Pirates were “teams to watch” with Willingham.

    • http://www.facebook.com/andy.prough.3 Andy Prough

      I know he’s not right handed, but we just traded Chris Dickerson for a PTBNL, and he’s now hitting .295 with an .835 OPS in Cleveland after hitting .309 with an .886 OPS at Indianapolis. If we needed a backup outfielder so bad, why didn’t we just hang onto what we had? I think this Byrd rumor is total BS – no way this team trades assets for a backup outfielder right now. Especially not with the way Snider is hitting 1.322 OPS the past month, and the way Harrison has hit all season.

    • moose7195

      Doesn’t make any sense to me. You lose value bringing Byrd off the bench and you limit Polanco’s growth with a platoon or demotion to the bench. I like the idea of a bench bat, but that isn’t what Byrd is right now. Misusing Byrd only makes the loss in players even worse

      • jaygray007

        I don’t see a problem platooning Polanco in his first taste of mlb.

  • Bill Tull

    I don’t know….not a bad bat off the bench and certainly a better hitter in the lineup vs. LHP

  • Matt Beam

    acquire Byrd and flip Marte as part of David Price package? Marte and Hanson for Price enough? Byrd is a 2 year bridge to Meadows or Ramirez?

    • csnumber23

      Nooooo, terrible idea!

      • jaygray007

        i would sure hope that’d be more than enough for Price since Marte is a pretty safe 3 WAR player until 2021 when his contract runs out.

        A return for Marte would have to be massive. Once Bell is ready to take an OF spot, maaaan things will be interesting.

        • csnumber23

          Absolutely! We are talking about a guy with that war in only his 2nd full season. Teams like the Pirates need guys to sign contracts like Marte did. He isn’t even in his prime yet and signed through 2021 on the cheap and yet people on here want to ship in out. Makes no sense at all.

        • pilbobuggins

          When healthy or consitent, if he’s neither healthy or consitent all 3 war is is another number on a page.

          • jaygray007

            i built the injury concerns into that 3 figure. when he’s healthy a whole year, he can exceed 4 regularly.

  • CalipariFan506

    This to me speaks a lot to what they feel Marte’s status is. I’m not sure he’s going to be back any time soon if they’re looking for another outfielder.

    • csnumber23

      Don’t jump to conclusions, they just said Marte is feeling better and will be back soon. Byrd isn’t coming here, that makes no sense, especially with his contract.

      • CalipariFan506

        I heard that. But also the Pirates are notoriously optimistic with injuries. Neil Walker in 2012 was supposed to miss a few days and missed the final 6 weeks.

        • csnumber23

          That’s true, they definitely are. I would be more worried if it were an injury other than a concussion. It is rare that a concussion keeps a guy out long. That being said, the Pirates look like fools for leaving him in the game after that pitch to the head.

          • S Brooks

            Rare but not unprecedented. Justin Morneau and Cory Koskie come to mind.

  • Scott

    I think the only way the Pirates bring in another OF is if:

    A) Marte gets dealt in a big deal for someone like Price (doubt this happens)

    B) Snider gets sent back in the deal

    Byrd doesn’t make sense. A rental would if it only cost Snider + an average prospect, plus the rental would need to be a true upgrade over Snider. Otherwise I’m fine with J Hay and Snider as the backup OFers. If they are gonna make a depth move, a RH 3B would make the most sense to me, since J Hay is essentially the backup to 6 players right now.

  • SportOMania

    CBS reported last week the Mariners were trying to obtain Marte. If they are willing to part with Taijuan Walker for Marte I’d do it. However there is no way Byrd makes sense even if they deal Marte. I’d rather see J-Hay move to left till seasons end trade for a 4th outfielder type. Maybe John Mayberry Jr of the Phillies.
    I have no information or haven’t read anything but I would not be the least bit surprised if Pedro is moved for a starting pitcher.

  • krinks

    Send Marte to Seattle for James Paxton.

    • SportOMania

      That would work.

  • John Marshall

    I like Byrd but as mentioned does not make sense to bring him back for the $$$$$$. AJ got a little beat up last night!!!!

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