It feels like Theo Epstein extended an olive branch to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday trading Marlon Byrd for right-handed pitcher Michael Bowden.
Who would’ve guessed both parties would dance following the lengthy debate to settle the Epstein compensation package to the Cubs?
There’s no question Byrd could use a change of scenery given his dreadful start to the season offensively (.075 avg., 2 RBI). Whether or not his return to Fenway Park rekindles any lingering affects from being beaned in the eye there last May is yet to be seen.
The Red Sox, however, are starved for veteran outfield help. Jacoby Ellsbury is sidelined with a separated shoulder and Carl Crawford is still recovering from left wrist surgery. Whatever Byrd has left in the tank is worth Boston’s risk.
Veteran outfielders are typically hard to come by in mid-April trades, but Byrd was both the exception and expendable.
The Cubs (4-11) record as of Saturday heightened awareness that the organization’s top prospects could arrive sooner than anticipated. Clearing Byrd’s roster spot, a necessary evil of ageing veterans caught up in the midst of a rebuilding process, is our first sign more moves are on the way.
What it doesn’t indicate is Brett Jackson’s immediate arrival, which is largely hinging on his arbitration clock, not to mention, his well planned out minor league development.
It’s likely Jackson won’t get the call until June meaning Tony Campana will have to suffice in the mid-term.
Marlon Byrd’s track record shows he can hit for average and with some power. He was, after all, an All Star for Chicago batting .293, 12 HR, 66 RBI during 2010.
But that’s a far cry from Byrd’s current trade value as of Saturday, which explains why Boston could fairly offer Bowden, a relief pitcher they designated for assignment on April 15.
Bowden started the season on Boston’s Opening Day roster, but has limited experience at the major league level with moderate success. He sports a 3.91 ERA in 16 appearances since the start of 2011.
Granted the Cubs will also receive a Player to be Named Later, you certainly couldn’t expect more in return for Byrd straight up.
The Cubs lack of bullpen depth should give Bowden an edge at becoming the team’s feel-good story of 2012, seeing as he is the pride and joy of Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Illinois.
And in the 25-year-olds defense, the Red Sox haven’t done him any favors shuttling him back and forth between the big club and Triple-A the past three seasons.
But there’s upside with Bowden. One, Epstein and Jason McLeod saw enough promise to draft him 47th overall in the 2005 Draft. Two, he can’t be any worse than the Cubs current bullpen arms.
As for the bigger picture, what shouldn’t be overlooked is Ricketts’ willingness to eat most of Byrd’s $6.5M salary, which now includes him on the list with Carlos Zambrano who the Cubs are compensating $16M to play in Miami.
Ask me a few days ago if Marlon Byrd was tradable and I would’ve said ‘no way.’ But now that it’s a done deal, I’m feeling differently about the possibilities of other Cub veterans who might be on the outs.
Doesn’t it stand to reason if the Cubs can trade Marlon Byrd they can also find takers for Soriano, Soto, Baker, Johnson & Marmol?