It is a lesser deal – most August trades are – but an important one in the NL playoff races.
The San Francisco Giants have acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for 24-year-old AA righty Stephen Johnson, a reliever with huge strikeout and walk rates in the minors.
Having seen Angel Pagan go down (after really struggling this year), and then having lost Hunter Pence to an oblique injury, the Giants were likely scrambling to make any move they could to bolster the outfield. They’re just 2.5 games back of the Dodgers in the NL West, and just 4.0 games back of the Cubs in the Wild Card race.
Byrd, who turns 38 at the end of the month, broke his wrist earlier this year with the Reds, but hasn’t seen much of a negative impact on his power production, which is what you might have expected. Overall, he’s hitting .237/.286/.448 (97 wRC+) on the year, and no longer plays strong defense in the outfield.
This is not a substantial upgrade for the Giants, but it does allow them a little bit of a buffer between having to hope for a quick return from Pagan or Pence, and having to use ill-prepared, unproductive minor leaguers in prominent positions in the heat of a pennant race.
Since they gave up very little to get him, and since he can probably add a little from the bench even if/when Pagan and Pence do return, this was a nice move for the Giants.