Marlon Byrd signs with the Phillies

Marlon Byrd agreed to a two-year deal with the Phillies today that's worth $16 million, which means that the Pirates will once again have some decisions to make regarding right field, at least for the first half of 2014. 

This is one of those difficult in-between situations for a team like the Pirates, I think. On the one hand, they need a short-term right fielder, they can probably afford Byrd at $8 million a year, and Byrd's performance in 2013 earned him that salary. On the other hand, Byrd's a pretty good regression candidate (his 2013 power surge was unprecedented for him in his age-35 season and his .353 BABIP was well above his career levels) and it's hard to say what his 2014 is going to look like for sure. That means that while the Pirates could afford Byrd and that Byrd is worth the money, it's not at all a certainty that the Pirates should've re-signed Byrd at this term and price. 

In any case, I really hate judging moves like this in isolation. For now, it looks like the Pirates will either have to sign a right fielder, go with some sort of Tabata/Snider/Lambo rotation in the early part of 2014 until Gregory Polanco is ready, or make a trade for an outfielder. Depending on how high they are on Polanco (and most people are awfully high on the kid), they may be willing to put this money into some other position just hope for a few productive months out of Tabata and LamboSnider in the early part of next season while Polanco positions himself for a mid-to-late season debut, though that obviously carries some inherent risk on pretty much all sides. Like I said, though, let's wait and see where things are in a few months before jumping to any conclusions this early in the off-season. 

Let's close with this: I'm happy for Marlon Byrd. He's had a long, weird career with a lot of ups and downs, and he gets to cash in a little bit now. He was nothing but perfect for the Pirates down the stretch in 2013, from the offensive surge that helped them secure the top wild card spot to the home run off of Johnny Cueto that broke the ice in the wild card game. Byrd only played 30 regular season games and six playoff games as a Pirate, but it'll be impossible to remember 2013 without thinking of him. 

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.