Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Analyzing the Marlon Byrd trade
By Keith Law
In sending prospect Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later to the Mets for Marlon Byrd and John Buck, the Pirates made a truly all-in move, acquiring a rental player to fill their right-field hole while giving up a true prospect, for the first time in probably two decades. Meanwhile, the Mets shed some parts they didn't need for one prospect we know and another player who I'm told will be a decent prospect.
Byrd's 2013 season is well out of character for him -- I suppose, since he's a known PED user, I should insert some joke about him being back on the juice or something -- but posting your career-worst strikeout rate while also seeing your BABIP spike is some kind of coincidence. (Seeing your power numbers jump with your strikeout rate isn't surprising, however, as the two have always correlated very well. The harder you swing, the more you tend to miss.)
But the Pirates' right fielders have, collectively, been so awful this year, hitting .245/.307/.368 with poor defense, that Byrd represents a significant upgrade, probably half a win of value from here on out even if he doesn't keep up his pace from the season's first 20 weeks. He'll also help the team in the playoffs by removing one automatic out from the lineup, something that would seem more likely to cost you when facing the better-quality arms you see in October.
Buck helps Pittsburgh only in the sense that the Pirates had no real backup for days when Russell Martin doesn't play, because otherwise they would have an awful lot of passed balls.
For about five weeks of Byrd and Buck, the Mets get a very solid second-base prospect in Herrera. Playing full-time at age 19 in the low Class A Sally League, Herrera has shown somewhat surprising pop, with a .156 isolated power and 41 extra-base hits in 109 games. He's got a simple, quiet approach, just loading his hands a little higher than he should, with adequate hip rotation for 15-20 homer power at his peak.
He's an above-average runner whose speed hasn't translated into baserunning value, and is presently a fringy defender at second but should develop into an above-average glove given time and instruction. I'd call him a future everyday second baseman, a solid regular with a chance to be an above-average one.
I'm told by multiple sources that the Mets will receive another player to be named who is a "solid" piece, enough to make this deal even better for New York. Given how little sense there seemed to be in retaining Byrd at the July trade deadline, this is a very positive result for Mets fans after this week's other less fortunate news.