Pirates trade for Marlon Byrd and John Buck

When the news that Marlon Byrd was claimed on waivers by a National League team, it almost made too much sense that that team would be the Pirates. Obviously, it was: 

Obviously Byrd is the big catch here; he's having a really strong year at the plate (.285/.330/.518 with 21 homers), and he's a pretty competent defensive outfielder. That means that he can fill in for Starling Marte while he's on the disabled list, then slide over to right field once Marte is healthy again. Jose Tabata's been good at the plate lately, but Byrd's certainly more of a complete hitter and player to have round out the outfield picture on a daily basis. 

Buck is exactly what he seems to be, which is a backup catcher. He started the year off strong and has 15 home runs, but his wRC+ on the season is only 82. He will presumably free the Pirates up to use Tony Sanchez's bat off of the bench once rosters expand in September, which is something that they've generally been slow to do with Sanchez as the primary backup catcher. Really, it's a depth move that helps the team more than Kelly Shoppach. I wouldn't read more into it than that; the way the Pirates have used Sanchez this month indicates to me that they have high hopes for him. Buck simply makes them a little more rounded for a stretch run. 

In return, the Mets are getting Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later. Herrera's nothing to sneeze at. He's a young 19 (meaning that he won't turn 20 until next March) and he's having a pretty strong season with West Virginia in his first year of full-season ball, hitting .265/.330/.421. There's been some talk of him as a shortstop in the past, but he's only ever played second for the Pirates and I think his slight build (he's listed as 5'10"/150) will probably keep him there. He's a nice, solid middle infield prospect and a good return for two rental players (both Buck and Byrd will be free agents), but he's not a top-tier prospect (Pirates Prospects has him smack in the middle of their Top 20 list), either. With the presence of Alen Hanson in the system (depending on what position you think Hanson will end up at, and what you think of Jordy Mercer long-term, I suppose) I think that he's expendable under the right circumstances.

My gut feeling here is that this qualifies. Byrd represents a potential big upgrade over the right field struggles that the Pirates have been saddled with all year. Moving Tabata (and later, Sanchez) to the bench to pinch hit adds some depth that's sorely been missing there all year. It's been apparent that the Pirates' offense needed something down the stretch here, so let's hope that Marlon Byrd is it. 

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.

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