Mariners scouting Marlon Byrd
UPDATE: Marlon Byrd pulled back the curtain on the details of his contract to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly. He's got a four-team no-trade clause (Byrd, not Salisbury) and the Mariners are one of them.
The Phillies have some options as Major League Baseball's trade deadline approaches. They could make a low-profile move with players like like A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick, and/or Marlon Byrd; or they could rip Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, or Cliff Lee off the roster for three or four players in return.
You can find wisdom behind either type of move. But keep in mind that the Phillies have for some time been wary to do anything at all, and they are reluctant to engage in a full rebuild now. Therefore, trades involving lower tier players are more likely.
Byrd has been one of those hitters, carrying much of the Phillies' power in Ryan Howard's there-but-not-there performance from the clean-up spot. Byrd is hitting .261 for the season with a .794 OPS, the second highest on the team behind Chase Utle, and has knocked a team-leading 18 HR and 52 RBI. Those numbers have caught the eye of multiple teams. One of them has made itself bit more apparent of late.
The Mariners have a need for offense to surround Robinson Cano, and a need to spend frugally because they're the Mariners. Byrd's deal is for two years and $16 million, with an $8 million option for 2016. His play has been deemed worth a look, despite the cost for a 36-year-old outfielder, and Seattle may request that the Phillies devour part of the deal.
Cano and third baseman Kyle Seager lead the third place Mariners in most offensive categories. Seattle is in third place in the AL West at 49-43, behind Anaheim and Oakland. An injection of offense could give the Mariners a chance at trimming the nine game deficit between them and first place, or at least a strengthend shot at a Wild Card. With the third best run differential in all of baseball, they've clearly outperformed expectations this year.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal's asserted that Seattle should pursue David Price, presumably to combat Oakland's recent stockpiling of pitching talent in Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. But the Mariners are on in everybody: Byrd, Price, Josh Willingham, Ben Zobrist, Justin Morneau, Matt Joyce, even Cliff Lee.
With a surplus of prospects - a top one in Taijuan Walker - and an overflow of middle infielders and relievers, the Mariners are ready to deal. The Rays seem to match up with them a bit more naturally, but if Seattle wants to "be in on" Marlon Byrd, then why not?
Perhaps that's getting a little too far ahead. Right now, the Mariners are just looking at Marlon Byrd as an option, and the best thing for the Phillies would be to see their right fielder continue producing and making himself more desirable.