Reds get Byrd from Phillies

Published 5:57 pm Thursday, January 1, 2015

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Reds acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd and cash from the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday for a minor league pitcher, filling the biggest hole in their lineup.

The Reds tried to get a left fielder through free agency but failed, prompting them to trade for the 37-year-old Byrd. He played center field and right field during his major league career, but came up through the minors as a left fielder.

“Hopefully it’s going to be like riding a bike,” Byrd said during a conference call. “I’m going to have to put a little extra work on it this offseason.”

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Byrd is the latest veteran traded for prospects as the Phillies rebuild. They’ve also sent 2007 National league MVP Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers and left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo to the Pirates. The Phillies have missed the playoffs three straight years after winning five straight NL East titles, two pennants and the 2008 World Series.

Byrd gets $8 million next season. There’s an $8 million team option for 2016 at $8 million that becomes guaranteed if Byrd gets 509 at-bats next season. He had 591 at-bats last season with the Phillies and batted .264 with 28 doubles, 25 homers and 85 RBIs. He also fanned a career-high 185 times.

“I know people are going to say he struck out a lot — he struck out last year more than he has,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “He had 28 doubles, 25 homers and 85 RBIs, and that’s something we definitely need on our club. Hopefully we can get him to cut down on the strikeouts.”

Left field has been a trouble spot for the Reds since Ryan Ludwick suffered a shoulder injury on opening day 2013. He returned last season and batted only .244 with nine homers and 45 RBIs. The Reds decided to pay a $4.5 million buyout after the season rather than bring him back on a $9 million option.

“You know the theme we’ve been talking about a lot here, that’s been having somebody that can really go out there on a daily basis and play the game the right way,” manager Bryan Price said.

The Reds were interested in Byrd during the 2013 season. Byrd wound up going from the Mets to the Pirates, who reached the playoffs with his help.

The Phillies got right-hander Ben Lively, who was the Reds’ minor league player of the year for 2014. Lively, 22, went a combined 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA in Class A and Double-A last season. The Reds agreed to give up one of their better pitching prospects when the Phillies agreed to include money to cover some of Byrd’s salary.

“Yes, it’s a tough decision to give up a young pitcher, but it really is a strength of our organization, especially right-handed pitching,” Jocketty said. “They are paying a significant amount of his salary this year, which is the only way we would have been able to do this deal.”