The Arizona Diamondbacks designated highly-compensated but under-producing outfielder Eric Byrnes for assignment two weeks ago. Soon, he’ll be a free agent who can be signed for the Major League minimum, and according to newly-signed Cub Chad Tracy on XM Radio, Byrnes is hoping that signing team will be the Chicago Cubs.
Byrnes has long been a rumored favorite of Cubs GM Jim Hendry’s, and there was a time when we speculated that he might go after Byrnes to fill the Cubs’ fourth outfielder spot. But then came the much better Xavier Nady.
So even if Byrnes is interested, would the Cubs be? In theory, they’ll carry five outfielders, but it’s long been presumed that the fifth outfielder would be Sam Fuld. Byrnes is an adequate defender, but Fuld is a plus defender. Byrnes has a track record of success hitting at the Major League level, but that was three years ago. Fuld has more recently had success hitting at the Major League level, albeit in limited duty.
It’s hard to imagine the Cubs bumping Fuld in favor of Byrnes, but if all Byrnes can find is a minor league deal and Spring Training invite, there’s no risk in extending him that offer. That said, it’s hard to imagine some team not finding a bench spot for Byrnes.