As reported by ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin and confirmed by a City of Champions Major League Baseball source, the Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck from the New York Mets for minor-league shortstop Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later.
The trade was conducted under waiver rules, which means every team below the Pirates in the National League standings had the opportunity to claim Byrd and Buck before Bucs general manager Neal Huntington got his chance. Once he was awarded the waiver claims by the MLB league office, Huntington and Mets GM Sandy Alderson worked out a deal.
We wrote about the possibility of getting Byrd, a 35-year-old having a career year, this morning. His OPS of .848 provides a large portion of his value, which Baseball-Reference.com computes as 3.9 wins above replacement (WAR). That would be a huge improvement over what the Pirates have gotten from right field, the position at which Byrd seems to be the best fit.
The recent hand injury of second-year left fielder Starling Marte probably increased the Bucs’ urgency to add an outfielder prior to the Sept. 1 playoff roster deadline. Although Jose Tabata has performed well since becoming the de facto right field starter in early August, adding Byrd makes the Pirates much deeper offensively.
Byrd is making only $700,000 this season, a stark contrast to the $6 million Buck will have earned by the end of September. At 33, Buck is a 10-year veteran well into the decline phase of his career, at least at the plate. Nevertheless, he provides an experienced backup to Russell Martin, taking some of the pressure off Tony Sanchez as he adapts to his first MLB season.
Herrera, 19, is currently playing shortstop for Low-A West Virginia, but he projects as a second baseman at the major-league level. He has a .751 OPS in his third professional season, including surprising power (11 home runs, .421 slugging percentage) for a 5-foot-10, 150-pounder. Herrera represented the Pirates at the MLB Futures Game in July and was considered the team’s 20th-best prospect by Baseball America prior to the season.
It’s possible both Byrd and Buck will be in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night as the Pirates begin a six-game homestand. The Bucs will have to make two corresponding roster moves to account for their new additions.
The Pirates were quiet at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but maybe the Bucs’ stagnation since then – they have an 11-12 record in August – caused Huntington to redouble his efforts to upgrade the lineup. He has another few days to make another move or two, with first base being the final position that could use a boost.
UPDATE: Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Starling Marte will not be able to swing a bat for “a couple weeks” because of ligament damage in his right hand. Marte’s injury situation certainly made the Byrd acquisition more of a necessity than previously imagined.