Apparently, if the Royals want Marlon Byrd, all they have to do is send Double-A lefty reliever Sam Selman to Philadelphia (h/t ESPN Insider's Jim Bowden). Then the 36, soon-to-be-37-year-old outfielder with two years and $16 million (likely*) remaining on his deal could be theirs.
There's a slight problem with that idea, though.
Byrd would barely be the fourth-best outfielder on the team.
Right now, Byrd has been worth exactly one win, according to FanGraphs. Norichika Aoki, in all his flailing splendor, has been worth 0.9 fWAR. And of course, we can assume Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain have been better than that as well.
But what about Jarrod Dyson?
Immediately one thing sticks out. Byrd has twice as many homers as anyone on that list. Cool.
However, he also has the lowest on-base percentage, the least defensive value, the worst strikeout rate, and the worst contract on that list -- Cain and Dyson are still arbitration eligible, Aoki's on his way out after the season, and Gordon's contract looks like it was negotiated by someone from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Byrd, on the other hand, is locked in for $8 million in 2015 and has an option that vests with with 600 plate appearances in 2015 or 550 plate appearances in 2015 and a total of 1100 plate appearances in 2014 and 2015. And he'll turn 37 next month.
Not to mention that Jarrod Dyson is having a spectacular season. He has a .348 on-base percentage and -- if given enough playing time -- he could end up being the most valuable defensive player in the league this season. He is currently ranked 23rd in fWAR among outfielders.
If you're thinking but the team doesn't need to get better defensively, they need OFFENSE, you are probably right.
BUT, what good will a few home runs do if the guy hitting them costs his team as many -- or more -- runs as he creates with below-average defense?
The answer is: Not much. Now if the idea is to acquire Byrd and start him as the designated hitter, that's a different story. But that doesn't seem to be the idea unless the hypothetical Byrd-Selman deal is paired with a Billy Butler trade. So, rather than trading a guy that might be a useful reliever someday for a player who won't make the Royals better and will likely be a charley horse on the payroll until 2016, why not just start Dyson?
The organizational knock on Dyson seems to be his aptitude against same-side pitching. It has been a problem in the past. In his career, Dyson has a .214 wOBA against lefties compared to a .321 wOBA against right handers. That's a big split, but this season he has managed to synthesize it to some extent.
Marlon Byrd isn't the only player the Royals could target for help in the outfield, but the thing is, they don't need help in the outfield. They would be much better off adding a corner infielder. Giving up a minor leaguer to further muddy up their roster with older, less talented players than they already have would be a bad move -- even if it's a good trade on paper.