When the New York Mets made the wise choice of trading outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the end of August, Byrd expressed some desire in returning to the Mets. After helping the Pirates reach the playoffs for the first time in more than 20 years, Byrd is now a free agent and able to sign with any team. But would it be wise for the Mets to bring him back to New York in 2014?
There’s no debate that Byrd was one of the Mets’ most productive players in 2013, perhaps even more so than David Wright. However, there’s also no guarantee that Byrd would be able to duplicate the success he had in 2013 if the Mets were to bring him back in 2014.
Following a PED suspension, Byrd played all winter leading up to the 2013 season, which allowed him to be sharp in spring training, win a spot on the Mets’ opening day roster, and ultimately become a key part of their outfield for a significant portion of the season. But those circumstances are unlikely to repeat in 2014, which could make it difficult for Byrd to retain his high level of productivity next year.
Byrd is also one of the oldest outfielders on the free agent market this offseason. He is considerably older than Shin-Soo Choo, who is rumored to be the Mets’ top outfield target this offseason, and he’s even older than Nelson Cruz, who they could also pursue. Despite his great play in 2013, Byrd’s age is reason to give the Mets some trepidation as it relates to signing him again for 2014, especially if Byrd seeks a two-year contract.
Byrd was invaluable for the Mets in 2013, but that alone isn’t reason to bring him back next year. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if Byrd were to return to New York next season, but he should not be at the top of their wish list; the Mets should pursue other outfielders before giving strong consideration to Byrd.