Phillies Flip for Byrd

Pull Marlon Byrd off the board — the Philadelphia Phillies have signed him to a 2-year, $16M contract.

So much for Byrd’s strong relationships with Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins, his fondness for the Mets organization, and his desire to return to Flushing.

I hate to sound like Sandy Alderson, but signing Marlon Byrd to two years and $16M seems outlandish and irresponsible. But guess what? The bar has been set: a 36-year-old fourth outfielder coming off a career year and one and half years removed from a drug suspension is worth that much in today’s market. That’s kind of scary, even if you’re not a Mets fan. If Marlon Byrd is going to get 2/$16M, what does a starting outfielder with a more consistently proven and less questionable track record fetch? Suddenly, the idea that Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo will get $100M deals is not so crazy. What, then, quasi-DH Carlos Beltran worth? 2/$30M? 3/$50M? How about another fourth OF type, like

Even if the Mets had the money to throw at Byrd, I’m not sure it would have made sense to give him that much money as well as two guaranteed years. I’m EXTREMELY suspicious of his having a career year as a 36-year-old, and will be surprised if he can duplicate it in 2014. Maybe he can. Maybe he really DID take Tamoxifen for a breast enlargement condition that resulted from unknown, natural causes and not for PEDs. Or, maybe his girlie-breast issue WAS due to an undetectable steroid cycle, and the residual effects (i.e., strength) were still mostly in place in 2013 — it’s not as though stopping anabolic steroid use is akin to letting the air out of a balloon. In fact, there are any number of ways to maintain strength gained via steroids, including the occasional use of HGH / Somatropin or IGF-1, which remain untestable. Steroids create new muscle fibers that otherwise would not be produced naturally, and those fibers don’t disappear after cycling off. They remain, and can be maintained with proper diet and training.

On the other hand, perhaps whatever Byrd was taking will continue to be undetectable. And/or, maybe it doesn’t matter whether or not he’s juicing, because he’ll flourish in the sandbox known as Citizens Bank Park — look what that home field did to rejuvenate Raul Ibanez‘s career.

But for the Mets, and playing half his games in Citi Field? Regardless of whether or not he is/was juicing, it didn’t seem to me to be a combination conducive to another season (much less two) like he had in 2013. Had the Mets signed him to a 2-year deal — even for half of what the Phillies gave him — I would have responded critically, and compared him to Scott Hairston.

What’s your thought? Did you think / hope the Mets would re-sign Byrd? More importantly, how does this signing affect the rest of the outfield free-agent market? Do the Mets have a chance to sign anyone, with their shallow pockets? If so, who?

Answer in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. blastingzone November 13, 2013 at 7:00 am
    I’m not sure Byrd’s career year in 2013 was a fluke? He showed he could handle playing under the pressure in NY
    and he also was a good club house guy and taught guys
    like Lagares and others how to prepare for a game! Oh yea he also had a great year which he may or may not
    repeat but at 8 million a year he’s a steal and would have
    been a nice compliment to Granderson or who ever they
    signed or traded for? One last thing Byrd never had a 5th
    hitter to protect him( Davis and Duda don’t count as neither had a good year in 2013) and he still had a great
    • Joe Janish November 15, 2013 at 1:57 am
      Well, the last time Byrd hit this well was during his tenure in hitter-happy Texas, at a time when he was 5-6 years younger, playing on a team with other suspected PEDs users, and had hitting coach magician Rudy Jaramillo keeping an eye on his swing. Maybe he’s not a fluke, but he looks like one to me.

      Pressure of playing in NY? In Flushing? For the Mets? Maybe it’s “pressure” compared to playing in Kansas City, but, please.

      We’ll have to agree to disagree, as I don’t see $16M for Byrd as a “steal.”

  2. Dan Capwell November 13, 2013 at 7:36 am
    And it looks like the Phils are about to land Jose Bautista as well.
  3. izzy November 13, 2013 at 8:04 am
    What it proves is, that despite all the hystrionics from the baseball world, that they are going to clean up the game. As with the Blue Jays assinine deal with Melky last year, baseball proves with its wallet that cheating still pays. anyone think there’d be some cheap SS on the market due to PED use?????? Ain’t happening.

    question for blastingzone: When did Marlon Byrd play under pressure in New York?? They were written off before the first day of Spring, and met every expectation (NONE). There was no pressure.

  4. DaveSchneck November 13, 2013 at 8:42 am
    A few thoughts:
    1. As Izzy says, cheating in MLB pays, like it or not
    2. Marlon Byrd is no Scott Hairston, he is and has been a much better player throughout his career
    3. We’ll never know the truth, but clearly his 2013 numbers raise a flag. Agree that the results of PED use can be maintained, and legally, for several years after the use
    4. Potential $24 mil for Byrd is a ton of money, and I am rather nuetral on his signing, except for my disdain for anything Phillie
    5. At some point, the prices are the prices, and if $8 mil/year is the price for a vet 4th OF, that’s what it is. Right now, the Mets have commitments to DW and Niese totalling $25 mil. That is $68 mil less than last year. Yes, their arb eligible and minimum salary players push them up to $52 mil. That is $41 mil less than 2013. Add to that the $26 mil new TV money and that means if they resign all their arb eligible players plus add 2014 contracts of $67 mil, they net out to the same cost as 2013. This is how their competitors are behaving. If Alderson keeps grimacing at the prices and doing nothing, or if he bottom feeds, spends only $30 mil as rumored, and fields a non-competitive team with holes once again, I for one will tune out and I will not be alone.
    • Joe Janish November 15, 2013 at 2:04 am
      Agreed, I see the main problem with Alderson’s “strategy” is that he refuses to adjust to the market rate — and it began with his condescending comments about the Jayson Werth signing. The cash being thrown at less-than-superstar players is unnerving, but, “it is what it is” and at some point the Mets will have to either admit that a fourth outfielder costs $8M per year, a decent starting OF will cost $15M+, and a borderline All-Star at any position — even one with chronic injury history — is going to be north of $20M. And I can’t stop looking back at how the Jose Reyes situation was handled and shake my head. Understood that the Wilpons were in major financial straits at the time, but, as has been stated many times before: this is NEW YORK. Crying poverty just doesn’t cut it in this city when you’re running a Major League sports franchise.
      • Vilos November 16, 2013 at 9:30 pm
        Agreed on all your points, except the New York issue. A sound business model is necesary everywhere and anywhere. The Mets were a mess. I agree thal mlb could have / should have made the Wilponzies sell, but they didnt. Therefore sound business requieres to put in place a plan that stops the bleeding, builds within a budget and eventually starts to regain the interest of its fans. Slow and boring, maybe. Risky, definately (just imagine what happens if tbe Mets spend money and bring in three new starters, only to lose more games…). Unfit for New York sports franchise market, yes. But at least, they have a plan, so the fun part should be to beable to watch and see if they can put it in place, and better yet, if they can build a dynasty.
  5. mic November 13, 2013 at 11:22 am
    A few Mical Palin thoughts:
    1: Mets keep parading their young stars….But it seems that TC does better in rehabbing older veterans
    2. Phillies get Byrd for 2 years…short duration, high ceiling pick up. similar to Raul Ibanez…who helped them to a World Series…or 2.
    3. 100M? Sorry but like Izzy I think they want a 60M dollar salary packet. Byrd, Santana, Bay, francisco, are gone purge Niese, Davis and Murphy and the entire team is a virtual minimum wage except for DW.
    • DaveSchneck November 13, 2013 at 12:46 pm
      I don’t disagree with you or Izzy that the want a $60 mil payroll. And, actually, I would have no problem with a $60 mil payroll if they had a team the caliber of the As or Rays in 2014. However, if they field a $60 mil team in 2014 with a bunch of holes or no shot at the WC, they are perpetuating a fraud upon their customers, who are asked to pay NYC premium prices for the product. People can spend their money as they see fit, but with a lousy $60 mil team, and the prospect of a 6th consecutive losing season, they should draw below 1 million as far as I’m concerned. IMHO, the lost revenue will amount to a much bigger pile of money (even $5 bills) that the $40 million payroll gap to get them to a $100 million team.
      • mic November 15, 2013 at 6:55 am
        FACT: Mets have had a LONG TERM plan to purge ALL contracts. after the Bonilla contract the WILPONS publicly stated no long term deals past 4 years. Omar got them to change and netted Pedro, CB and Santana. Now they are in FULL retrograde…..think 1995.

        This tells me TC is not interested in growing from within.
        In fact I feel Sandy stayed out of the Manager market because he was skiddish and not wanting to tie himself to a new manager yet. NOTE to Fans…how many Marlon Byrd’s and LaTroy Hawkins have we had vs how many Frankie’s, Chris Youngs and that last closer whose name I have erased.

        Now we hear The Mets (TC) want to follow the Red Sox model? ….really?

  6. norme November 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm
    Even if Sandy Alderson offered Byrd the same deal as he got from the Phils, I think he would have signed with Philly.
    Neither team is a contender for 2014, but most power hitters would rather play in, as Joe stated, that “bandbox” than in Wilpon’s Folly. With decent numbers that he probably wouldn’t achieve in Queens, Byrd could even get a third 8million year in Philly.
  7. argonbunnies November 13, 2013 at 10:40 pm
    I think Byrd’s power is real, but his high average was luck, given all the Ks. I foresee a Delmon Young-like performance: SLG over .400, OBP under .300. Is that worth $16mil over 2 years?

    In the past, the answer was “obviously not”. Going into 2014, I think it’s much more questionable. $16/2 may be the new baseline for “better than a minor leaguer”. It wouldn’t shock me if that’s the lowest contract we see given to a player with a guaranteed job this offseason (guys competing for jobs will obviously get less). Although I wouldn’t expect every team to invest the full $25mil from TV money into payroll this year, you can bet that it will factor in to any bidding wars.

    Alderson has announced in his usual doublespeak that the Mets will be waiting to see what The Market deigns to drop into their lap. The Mets won’t get caught up in any bidding wars, and will probably get excellent prices on all the players that nobody wants.

    I guess ownership hasn’t gotten the hint that the fans are fed up with this. Can we arrange a very loud and public campaign ASAP to boycott opening day? Maybe that’ll make them rethink the “come up with excuses for losing and not spending” strategy. They’ll clearly continue if they think the fans are buying it.

    • Dan B November 14, 2013 at 10:02 am
      If attendants goes down I expect Wright trade rumors. I still expect Wright trade rumors to be floated this offseason. The Mets are two trades (Wright and Neese) from being the Astros. With the new network money plus Tv and radio locked up, they might show a profit next year with a $45 million payroll despite attendance. Crazy? Sure. But they would make more money in the short term for an owner who is drowning in debt.
    • Joe Janish November 15, 2013 at 2:07 am
      Delmon Young is a pretty good comp — well done.

      I also hesitate to believe Byrd will duplicate the batting average considering his extreme K rate. I think the only way he maintains the HR power is by playing half his games in CBP — again, I point to Raul Ibanez.

      CBP is to old power hitters as Petco Park is to old crafty starting pitchers.

  8. jerseymet November 13, 2013 at 11:14 pm
    The Phillies are in George Allen Mode. “The future is now.” They would be wise to hire a good trainer with this crew. Byrd was an excellent signing by Alderson. Trading for Byrd and Buck for the two prospects looks even better. The Mets future begins latter.
  9. Trotter76 November 14, 2013 at 12:32 am
    There are too many players on the market that are a better fit than Byrd to jump at him now. Good luck with the Phils, Marlon, we loved having you in NY. I see no reason to overpay for him. Like others say, though, if SA doesn’t improve this team this offseason with all the cash that got freed up then he’s not doing his job. But Byrd is not the answer. We need late 20s guys to build around as far as free agents go.
    • NormE November 14, 2013 at 2:07 pm
      Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of late 20s guys who are FAs to go around.
    • DanB November 14, 2013 at 7:37 pm
      The problem with Mets has been they are so fearful of making moves, nothing gets done while they wait for the perfect FA or the perfect trade. Mets traded their best outfielder. Twice. We traded their best pitcher. They are running out of big time ballplayers they can make safe trades with. In the mean time, the Mets hover in the mid 70s win column and they have $100 million in salary flexibility which they never use. Saving that salary money is as wasteful as keeping top notch pitchers in the minors while washed up pitchers start in the majors. Wilpons saving money does not win ball games.
  10. crozier November 15, 2013 at 12:12 am
    Good conversation starter, as usual Joe, though what Byrd was taking and why doesn’t, to me, seem useful to the conversation. Byrd broke a rule and was punished according to league guidelines. Whatever his motives were isn’t relevant.

    Bryd gave them a great season at a bargain price. Alderson’s job is to find more bargain basement acquisitions, but (I hope) not to invest in long-term results from such lucky finds, as the Phillies apparently do.

    So no, I wasn’t disappointed that they didn’t resign Byrd. The Mets’ path to an eventual winning season will be through a youth movement, and their inevitable success will surprise everyone – especially this community – when it happens.

    • Joe Janish November 15, 2013 at 2:20 am
      To me, the PEDs are central to the conversation and a key point to consider in projecting future performance. I believe strongly that 2013 was a “residual” PEDs year for Byrd, and, unless he took something undetectable in ’13, and will continue to take it going forward, I predict a dropoff in his numbers due to the gradual (or possibly drastic) loss of strength, bat speed, etc.

      You may say I’m on a witch hunt, but I point directly at Albert Pujols as an example. His fall from grace came immediately after “cashing in,” and I’m incredibly suspicious that signing that crazy contract coincided with stopping any PEDs, for fear of getting caught and destroying his legacy. If I was a MLB GM, I’d be very, very careful about older players who have fluke seasons, wondering if they found a way to take something in order to squeeze out one more big contract. Such as Bartolo Colon or Melky Cabrera. And I’d wonder if, after signing for big bucks, will their performance drop because they stop doing whatever they’re doing. But that’s me — forever the pessimist.

      As for the Mets’ inevitable success, I’m not sure that surprise is happening anytime soon. But again, that’s the pessimist (or realist?) in me.

  11. micalpalyn November 19, 2013 at 3:30 am
    Joe: PEDS are a distraction. If not you ban PEDS positive players for life. …period.