As part of their ongoing quest to purge the roster of veteran players, the Phillies continue to try and find a new home for right fielder Marlon Byrd. The 37-year-old Byrd hit .264/.312/.445 last year with 25 home runs for the Phils and played decent defense in right, posting a bWAR of 2.6.
And it appears now that the Phils were close to sending him to Cincinnati.
Among all National League outfielders last year, only Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Upton hit more homers than Byrd, tied with Andrew McCutchen and Matt Kemp. In fact, when you compare the lines of Byrd and the recently-traded Kemp, you find two players not too dissimilar to each other.
While Kemp is much younger at 29, he also has a ridiculous amount of money left on his contract, signed through 2019 at $21.25 million next year and then $21.75 million every year after that. Byrd, meanwhile, is owed $8 million this year, with a vesting option of $8 million next year that will probably be reached.
This is not to argue that Byrd is as good a player as Kemp. While Kemp's defensive numbers were poor last year, a lot of it came as he tried to play center field. With Kemp now moving to a corner outfield spot, he should see those defensive metrics improve.
That being said, Byrd has value. Sure, he strikes out a ton (185, 2nd-most in the NL), and hardly ever walks (5.5%, 12th-worst in the National League last year). And certainly his age is an issue. But Byrd is one of the few power bats on the market.
Sending Byrd to the Reds makes a lot of sense. Cincinnati surely wants to upgrade from Brennan Boesch, the man currently atop their depth chart in left field. He could be a potentially dangerous bat hitting between Joey Votto and Jay Bruce at the launching pad that is The Great American Ballpark.
As for why initial trade talks between the Phils and Reds broke down, the most obvious guess is the Phillies were asking too much in return for Byrd. That's just a guess, but based on previous reports about how the Phils have gone about conducting their fire sale would make that a reasonably strong possibility.
But Byrd would fill a need for the Reds, and the Phillies would hopefully get a reasonable prospect in return to help with the rebuild.