After their 2012 trades of Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, the Philadelphia Phillies lacked outfielders who hit for power, specifically right-handed hitting ones. Many believed they would be first in line for the services of a Nelson Cruz or Jacoby Ellsbury. As we see now, that was not the case.
Instead, Philadelphia signed Marlon Byrd for two years and $16 million, with options based on plate appearances. Byrd was solid for the New York Mets and later the Pittsburgh Pirates as he hit .291/.336/.511 with a career-high 24 home runs and 88 RBIs. The 36-year old Byrd had never hit more than 20 home runs in a season. This is following a year in 2012 where he was busted for PEDs and also hit .070 to start the season with the Chicago Cubs.
In 2011, Byrd hit .276/.324/.395 with nine home runs and 35 RBIs. Needless to say, Byrd is a hard player to predict at this point in his career — which is exactly why the Phillies spending so much on him is not only a horrible move, but it will probably backfire before April ends.
At 36, Byrd is in the twilight of his career, and would have made way more sense as a DH and part-time outfielder for an AL team than the Phillies. Byrd has given no indication of being a consistent power hitter as his home run totals have fluctuated in every season. Sure, he has had two seasons of 20 or more home runs, but those are obviously anomalies. For the Phillies to dole out $16 million for two years of an unpredictable hitter is flat-out poor judgement.
One saving grace for this terrible signing could be Citizen’s Bank Park. With the small corner dimensions, Byrd could pull the ball and probably come to close to matching his 2013 home run total. Sadly, that may not be the case, as he is a .209/.270/.314 career hitter at Citizen’s Bank Park, which could further prove this deal to be bad.
GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will begin to feel the heat at some point. He’s been able to acquire top notch talent thanks to his predecessor Pat Gillick, but has had more and more deals backfire on him with each passing winter. This is probably going to be another one.