The San Francisco Giants have struck a deal to acquire outfielder Marlon Byrd from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for minor-league right-handed pitcher Stephen Johnson, according to Fox Sports.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) August 20, 2015
With Giants all-star right fielder Hunter Pence on the disabled list and Angel Pagan still hurt, the 37-year-old Byrd will slot into Pence’s customary position during his absence. While Byrd is having a down year at the plate, he has still been a consistent power threat in 2015.
Through 96 games for the Reds, the well-traveled Byrd is hitting .239 with 19 HR and 42 RBI. With Nori Aoki slated to return from a concussion today, the Giants’ outfield will receive some punch as Pence looks to return from his second major injury in 2015.
After a couple of down seasons and a PED suspension, Byrd appeared to be hanging on by last thread. But a rebound season in 2013 helped Byrd reestablish his value. After hitting .285 with 21 HR and 71 RBI in 117 games for the New York Mets, Byrd was traded to help the Pittsburgh Pirates down the stretch.
In 30 games, Byrd hit .318 with three HR and 17 RBI for the Pirates, helping the team reach the playoffs for the first time since 1992.
Rewarded for his productive season, Byrd signed a two-year, $16 million contract to return to the Philadelphia Phillies. Although the team had a down year, Byrd proved that 2013 was no fluke. In a career-high 154 games, Byrd hit .264 with 25 HR and 85 RBI.
An offseason trade was brought to Cincinnati. However, much like the Reds, Byrd has experienced a down season, including suffering a fractured wrist.
As far as salary is concerned, Byrd is making $8 million this year, but Philadelphia is paying $4 million of that salary as part of the agreement when they traded him. Therefore, the Reds and Giants will only be on the hook for about $1 million for the rest of the season. He also has a $8 million club option for 2016.
However, he still needs 182 plate appearances for that option to vest, as mentioned by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.
As noted by MLBTradeRumors, Byrd needs to average 3.85 plate appearances per game over the Giants’ remaining 42 games to reach the 550 plate appearances needed. But if he gets regular playing time, that is within reach.
The Reds currently sit 25 games back of the first-place St. Louis Cardinals with a 51-67 record. Conversely, the Giants (65-55) currently sit just two games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West.
Going to the Reds is Double-A relief pitcher Stephen Johnson. The 24-year-old sixth-round draft pick in 2012 has spent all of 2015 at Double-A, posting a 3-0 record with a 3.41 ERA. He does have good strikeout numbers (10.6 K/9) but will need to monitor the walks (4.5 BB/9).
According to Baseball America, he was ranked the Giants 28th best prospect after the 2013 season. However, he has not cracked the Giants’ top 30 since then. But he does have some good upside when his age and strikeout abilities are taken into consideration. Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs gave a report on Johnson’s progression.
New Reds righty reliever Stephen Johnson has hit 100 mph and has flashed a plus breaking ball, but command/consistency is the key for 24 y/o
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) August 20, 2015
Thanks to his velocity, the Reds see their new pitcher in a positive light. Jon Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer spoke to Reds’ GM Walt Jocketty about his newest acquisition.
Jocketty said Johnson will go to AA. #Reds see him as reliever. “Big arm.”
— John Fay (@johnfayman) August 20, 2015
[Image by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]