As you already know, unless you just got back from the middle of Antarctica, the Red Sox made a move to help ease the pain of their injured outfield. Marlon Byrd, 34, is now a member of the Sox and the team needs him to find a way out of his 3-for-43 start at the plate.
For the past five years, Byrd has been a very solid player for the Rangers and Cubs, but he’s far from a star. Byrd has posted at least two fWAR in each of his last five years, and the season he failed to reach two or more fWAR he hit .283/.329/.479 with 20 home runs. That season, his defensive metrics did not grade out well at all, causing his fWAR to drop. However, that season, in terms of his defense certainly looks like an outlier. In that season, 2009, Byrd posted a -8.1 UZR, but followed up with a 9.8 UZR the next season and hasn’t posted a UZR below since 2005. While Byrd is by no means a great defender, he still has the skills to help this team in center or left, though his arm is not strong enough to play in right.
At the plate, Byrd brings with him a career line of .278/.337/.416. His walk rates have never been consistent and over the past two seasons, while with the Cubs, Byrd has begun to swing at more pitches outside the strike-zone than he had earlier in his career — 36.7 percent over those two seasons and his o-swing is at 37 percent so far this season.
Outside of his 2009 season, Byrd has not done much in the power department, so don’t expect more than around 10 or so homers from him while with the Sox.
In other words, don’t expect too much from Byrd overall this season. He’s a decent player to have on the field and in the lineup, but hopefully the Sox will have better options coming back to the lineup soon. Carl Crawford’s rehab is on track while Jacoby Ellsbury should return sooner than initially expected. For the time being, Byrd, assuming he cracks out of his current funk at the plate, which should happen soon enough, is a definite upgrade over Darnell McDonald.
Byrd will be a free agent after the season.
To attain Byrd’s services the Sox sent right-handed pitcher Michael Bowden, who was once considered a top 100 prospect by Baseball America, to Chicago along with the ever-so-popular player to be named later. Bowden worked mostly as a starter in his minor league career, but had recently been converted to a bullpen role. Last season, in part due to his switch to the pen, Bowden posted a 10.4 K/9. Out of options, the Sox either needed to keep Bowden on the major league roster, put him on waivers, or trade him to a team that was willing to keep him at the major league level.
I still believe that Bowden can be a middle inning reliever at the big league level, but he probably does not have much upside beyond that.
Assuming that the player to be named later is not an impact prospect, this should end up being a fair deal for the Sox, since above replacement level center fielders are harder to find than above replacement level relievers.