It sounds like a classic oxymoron, but it is true this month for the Philadelphia Phillies: right fielder Marlon Byrd is simply too valuable to keep. If he’s that valuable, logic dictates that the Phillies keep him, but this is anything but a logical season.
The reality is that even after a five-game winning streak — their second such streak within the last month — the Phillies find themselves nine games under .500 and not even within sniffing the range of playoff contention. If the organization is keeping it real, it understands that reality.
The other bit of reality facing the club is that due to overpaying a number of veterans, only a handful of current Phillies are going to be in demand once the final hours of the MLB trade deadline tick down on July 31. Only three right-handed hitters in baseball have hit 18 or more home runs and only one figures to be on the market, and that one is Byrd. That fact alone makes Byrd valuable to a team needing an outfield bat trying to make a stretch run.
Value brings back value, and that’s what the Phillies need. The Phillies should only keep Byrd if he does not bring back at least two top-level prospects and judging from what’s happened early on in the trade period, less valuable players have brought that kind of return back.
In the Phillies game on Saturday night against the Washington Nationals, Byrd drove in two runs. He is now hitting .263 with 18 homers and 54 RBIs. One could argue if he had better protection in the lineup — which he would presumably have with a contender — he could have faced better pitches and those numbers could have been higher.
Scouts all around baseball have to be thinking that too, which means Marlon Byrd is a valuable commodity and just too valuable for a team nine games under .500 to keep.