NEWBERG REPORT PLUS: A BYRD IN THE HAND

Hypothetical:

“Texas agrees to terms with outfielder Marlon Byrd on a two-year, $3.5 million contract, with a club option for $3 million in 2010 ($250,000 buyout). The contract includes plate appearance incentives that, if all reached, could increase the two-year guaranteed term to $4 million. The contract erases what would have been Byrd’s two final arbitration years.”

Does Texas make that deal today?

Does Byrd?

From the Rangers’ standpoint, it’s a bargain if he plays every day (or even as a platoon center fielder) and produces, an overpayment if he ends up as a fourth outfielder on a club with a retooled outfield (though not an albatross contract even in that case). From Byrd’s, it gives him the first financial security of his career on one hand, but is ceding what could be more money via the arbitration system if he continues to put up numbers and play virtually every day, whether in Texas or somewhere else that he handpicks this winter.

I’m not here to say that Byrd is a couple years away from landing a five-year, $50 million free agent deal (far from it), but Byrd is just about exactly the age that Gary Matthews Jr. was when Matthews arrived here on a AAA deal and played his way into a call-up in 2004. And there’s no question that Byrd was considered the better prospect when he was originally breaking into the big leagues. Even if he’s not quite the center fielder that Matthews is, he’s a pretty good defender, and he’s similarly versatile offensively when he’s going well, which he clearly is right now. In 13 June starts, he’s had hits in all but one game, including multiple hits seven times. He’s hitting .436/.492/.582 in 55 at-bats for the month, and .390/.435/.494 in 77 at-bats for Texas overall, after hitting .358/.415/.568 in 176 AAA at-bats.

Which side would be smart not to take that deal right now?

P.S. According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, Josh Rupe (who was transferred to the 60-day DL yesterday) had surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow and will be out of action until late in the summer.

P.P.S. I hope Cincinnati trades Adam Dunn this summer. Don’t care where.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

1 Comment

Personally I’d love to see Byrd agree to terms with any deal remotely close to that if the Rangers do it. He has been a bright spot this summer and lacks the play history to warrant much more than that. I think such a deal would work well for both parties.

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