We continue our look at potential upgrades in the offense by turning to the wise old man that could be available this summer - Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd.
Byrd is a right-handed hitter who plays right-field and has some pop, checking off all the potential boxes the Royals would be looking for if they are buyers this July. The 36-year old Byrd is hitting .261/.313/.481 this year for the last place Phillies, with a career line of .278/.334/.429. His 18 home runs are good enough for fourth in the league. Byrd has seen a spike in power as he aged (perhaps a concern since he was once suspended 50 games for using performance-enhancing drugs), hitting a career high 24 home runs last year, and he is well on pace to surpass that total this year. His strikeout rate has increased each of the last six seasons as well, and he now strikes out 28% of the time. Byrd mashes lefties, hitting .313/.353/.613 against southpaws this year.
Marlon's power is not a product of Philadelphia's cozy Citizen's Bank Park as eight of his home runs have been hit on the road. He has never walked much, and this year his walk rate is 6.4%. He's not a terrible baserunner for his age, but he is at -3 baserunning runs below average this year. Byrd is not considered an elite defender, but he has been replacement level defensively most of his career, and this year UZR rates him slightly below average, while Defensive Runs Saved rates him slightly above average.
Byrd is drawing interest from the Seattle Mariners and could be at play for other offensively-starved teams. Byrd was deal last year from the Mets to the contending Pirates for reliever Vic Black and infielder Dilson Herrera. To land Byrd now would probably require a similar package of decent, but certainly not elite prospects. An arm like Sam Selman or Jason Adam packaged with a player like Orlando Calixte or Cheslor Cuthbert might be able to get it done.
The biggest obstacle with Byrd is his contract. Byrd earns $4 million the remainder of this season but is guaranteed an $8 million salary in 2015 with an $8 million vesting option in 2016 based on his playing time (the option vests with 600 plate appeareances in 2015 or 550 plate appearances in 2015 and a total of 1100 plate appearances in 2014 and 2015). The Royals will be loathe to take on any long-term obligations at the deadline, especially older players like Byrd.