From a Cubs outfield move to another outfield move in the NL Central …
A Marlon Byrd to the Reds rumor popped up a couple days ago, and it didn’t make much sense given the state of affairs in Cincinnati. The Reds just unloaded Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon for prospects, and with an aging roster that managed to be pretty bad last year, a short-term rebuild seemed like a good idea.
… so the Reds have reportedly gone ahead and completed a trade for Marlon Byrd. For some reason.
Ken Rosenthal and Trent Rosecrans report that it’s pitching prospect Ben Lively going to Philly for Byrd, who is 37 and makes $8 million in 2015 (with another $8 million vesting option for 2016). Bob Nightengale says Commissioner approval is pending, which means the Phillies are sending cash to the Reds. Yup: the Reds are trading better prospect(s) away so that they can get old, short-term assets that they can’t afford with just money.
From the Reds’ perspective, it makes at least a tiny bit of sense: Joey Votto isn’t getting any younger, Jay Bruce/Devin Mesoraco/Todd Frazier are still prime age, and Johnny Cueto is likely to leave after this year. Might as well go for it now, because it’s not necessarily going to get any prettier after this season, when maybe the Reds start a full-on rebuild.
But, to me, this doesn’t look like a particularly competitive team in 2015, especially with the Cubs looking like they might be the third-best team in the NL Central. Plus, for his all-world-ness in 2013, Marlon Byrd was a slightly below-average overall player last year with the Phillies (again, when he turned 37). He’s also a formerly-busted PED user who was way, way down in 2012. Don’t get me wrong: I was a big Byrd fan when he was with the Cubs. I’m just not sure he moves the needle much in Cincy.
As for what the Reds gave up, Lively, 22, is a pretty clear top 10 prospect in the Reds’ system, and sure does rack up strikeouts in the minors. He seems like exactly the kind of prospect the Phillies should be accumulating … um, and the Reds should be accumulating, too.
All in all, I find the move baffling and a little annoying. I’d rather not see all of the NL Central teams beat up on each other this year, given how crappy the NL East is (which could give a non-Nationals team there a disproportionate advantage in the Wild Card race).