After long-exploring multiple trade and free agent options, the Cubs finally decide to sign 32-year old Marlon Byrd to a 3-year deal, worth $15 million.
Byrd is the definition of a “late-bloomer”. He didn’t hit his stride offensively until reaching Texas in 2007, having struggled previously in Washington and Philadelphia. Things changed when he became a Ranger though. Over the last 3 years, Byrd has hit .295 with a .352 on-base percentage. His OPS over this time-frame has been well above average, resting at .820.
Some would worry his offensive production is a large result of playing in the offensive conducive Arlington Park, but there may be very little to this issue now that he’s moving to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. The two parks offer an almost identical offensive advantage to the hitter, so the effects of transferring fields should be minimal.
Marlon has been under the tutelage of hitting instructor Rudy Jaramillo while playing for the Rangers, and he’s fortunate enough to be able to work with him in Chicago as well. Jaramillo was signed to be the hitting coach on the north side back in October, and Byrd should definitely be a large benefactor of his presence.
Byrd is just a middle-of-the-road defensive center fielder. As long as he can replicate his offensive success of the past 3 seasons, his mediocre defense would be more than acceptable.
Obviously, the Cubs are coming off a very poor return on their past ex-Ranger investment in Milton Bradley, but this should be no reason to worry about Byrd. Marlon has never been a clubhouse problem, and one would hope that this doesn’t change in Chicago.
Byrd is not a star, and he’s not great at anything. All the Cubs are asking for is that he can continue to do exactly what he’s been doing in Texas.
There really weren’t too many other reasonable options for Hendry when Granderson was moved and Cameron was signed. Scott Podsednik is a terrible defender, and is wildly inconsistent offensively. Rick Ankiel is largely injury-prone and another sub-par defensive player. By and large, Byrd was the best move of the remaining choices.
Cubs fans have been burnt with recent free agent and trade acquisitions, but let’s all try to approach the Byrd-signing with positivity, which is not exactly a feeling the Cubbie-faithful are used to.