We all thought it the moment we heard that Jacoby Ellsbury was going to miss significant time with a shoulder injury.
Maybe the Red Sox would be interested in Marlon Byrd.
No, Byrd hasn’t done much to up his trade value this young season, but the Red Sox were rumored in the past to have interest in Byrd as a possible fourth outfielder/platoon player. And, with Ellsbury out, it’s possible that Red Sox are looking to get whatever they can. Byrd is likely to come out of his funk at some point (well, that is to say, he’s not going to hit under .100), and he remains an excellent defensive outfielder. A possible match could make some sense if the Red Sox are eager to patch a hole.
The Red Sox are, indeed, looking outside the organization for outfield help, which makes Byrd at least a superficial fit. Gordon Wittenmyer speculates that there could be discussions between the Red Sox and Cubs, but we remain largely uncertain of whether the Red Sox view Byrd as a viable solution to their temporary outfield needs (and then long-term solution as a reserve). He could supply great defense in center while Ellsbury is out, but is his defense good enough – or his bat certain enough to return – that the Red Sox would be willing to give up much of anything to carry Byrd as a fourth outfielder once Ellsbury returns?
From the Cubs’ perspective, they’ll be looking to move Byrd at some point this season – to open up center field for Brett Jackson – but probably aren’t eager to make a deal (1) until Jackson is clearly ready (and has missed just enough time in the bigs this year to ensure the Cubs get an extra year of control over him (and also possibly avoid him reaching Super Two status)); and (2) while Byrd is at the nadir of his value. Byrd is under contract for this year only, and makes a reasonable $6.5 million. The Cubs would probably be willing to move him for nothing more than a B/B- prospect, assuming they saved some cash in the deal. Byrd isn’t going to be the difference between a playoff run and a crummy team this year.
If the Cubs were willing to move Byrd now, it’s possible they could put together a trade involving recently DFA’d pitcher Michael Bowden, who hails from Chicago, and who never got much of a chance to stick in the Red Sox’s bullpen. Bowden, 25, has great Minor League numbers, and is the kind of younger pitcher whom the Cubs might find worth stashing in the bullpen this year. Given that he’d be coming from the Red Sox, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod are also probably very familiar with his abilities (and limitations).
Given that Bowden was DFA’d, it’s also possible that he’ll ultimately be waived by the Red Sox, and the Cubs could have an opportunity to claim him, and then possibly take him on for much less than trading Byrd.