The San Francisco Giants acquired Marlon Byrd from the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, hoping that he will bring some much-needed aid to their injury-plagued outfield. All three starting outfielders for the Giants have suffered injuries in recent days.
With the team trying to overtake the Dodgers in the homestretch of the NL West pennant race, the Giants need an outfielder who is strong at bat. Whether Byrd can fulfill that role for his new team should be evident fairly quickly. Although Byrd can be a powerful hitter, his 2015 season has thus far been unremarkable. So far this year, Byrd has hit .237 with a .286 on-base percentage. He had 19 homers and 42 RBIs with the Reds.
The trade makes financial sense for both the Reds and the Giants. Byrd was brought on by the Reds last December to fill a gap in left field. Although the Reds received cash from the Phillies to cover part of his $8 million salary, his price is steep for a team that is out of contention and struggling to balance its books in the wake of mega-contracts with players Homer Bailey, Joey Votto, and Brandon Phillips. Byrd also has an $8 million club option for 2016 if he achieves 550 plate appearances by the end of this season. If he plays nearly every game, he could reach that number. This trade protects the Reds from Byrd’s vesting option. For the Giants, however –a team that is still vying for a wild card spot—Byrd seems to be a good value, especially since some of the money the Reds received from the Phillies was included in Thursday’s deal.
Reds general manager Walt Jocketty was enthusiastic about the trade. “This was another opportunity to give one of our veteran players a chance to go to a contending club and help them get to the postseason… He’ll get plenty of playing time there.” Jocketty also spoke highly of Double-A pitcher Stephen Johnson, who will be sent to Pensacola and is projected to be used as a reliever.
Byrd will be joining former Reds teammate Mike Leake in northern California. Leake, who was acquired by the Giants less than a month ago as a starting pitcher, has been on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. It is possible the two players could take the field together again as early as Sunday.