With Jackson ready for the bigs, could Cubs deal Byrd? Braves may be interested

Many people in baseball, including Cubs manager Dale Sveum, feel Brett Jackson is ready for the big leagues.

”There are a couple of guys who are ready to play here, especially Brett Jackson,” Sveum said. “He is ready to play here.

Sveum has been effusive in his praise for Jackson, though he does admit the contact rate could stand to see some improvement.  Still, he may well be the Cubs second best player already despite his lack of experience, especially when you take his complete range of skills into account.

He needs to go down and work on some of the adjustments. He has swung the bat really well in his last 15 at-bats...He brings so much to the table. In my nine years of coaching he is the best young player I’ve seen in a major league camp. He is the full package. The swinging and missing, he has to work on and cutting down strikeouts. He just brings a lot to the table.”

Although he mentions the adjustments and the swing and miss in his game, it appears the main reason that he isn't bringing him north is that there just isn't any room on the roster, but Jackson could force the Cubs hand soon,

”I think he is the type of kid that that will put the pressure on us to get him here one way or the other”

So where do the Cubs make room? Ideally they'd probably like to unload Alfonso Soriano but despite the big spring, his contract pretty much makes him an immovable object right now.

The other possibility is outfielder Marlon Byrd.  Byrd is still a good player.  He defends CF well, one of the premium defensive positions on the field, but is also capable of playing excellent corner defense as well.  His bat is still solid.  He's just one season removed from all-star status and a 4.4 WAR.

It's unlikely Byrd can be the kind of player he was in 2010, but he has a good chance of surpassing his 2011 numbers.  Bill James projects him with a .275/.329/.412 season that includes 13 HRs.  Combined with his plus defense, he can still help a lot of teams.  He looks to be in better shape this spring and his hitting the ball well again. We've talked about the Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians as possibilities, but David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution names the Braves as a potential suitor.

The Braves?  Don't they have Michael Bourn in CF?  Yes, they do and Byrd isn't going to be taking his job anytime soon, but the injury to Chipper Jones could force the Braves to move Martin Prado to 3B short-term and open up a spot in LF.  The Braves also lack a backup CF'er and at this stage seem willing to go with Jason Heyward in that role, so that could use a defensive upgrade as well.  Here is what O'Brien had to say,

If the Braves could get the Cubs to pay a large chunk of his $6.5 mill salary, Marlon Byrd would be a nice pickup. He’s very much available. Given the time that Prado might end up playing at third base, getting another proven every-day type of OF would be a good idea, in my opinion. He still plays a solid CF (eliminating need to move  Heyward over as a backup to Bourn) and can play LF as much as needed.

Of course, if the Braves carry him then then don’t have room for (Drew) Sutton as an extra utility guy. But with Jack Wilson healthy now and able to play three positions, and Prado freed up to play third or even second if needed, I don’t know that they wouldn’t be better served carrying Byrd, a legit every-day OF, than Sutton.

O'Brien also notes that the Braves have had interest in Byrd in the past as they were rumored to be in on him when he was a free agent before the 2010 season.  Any deal, however, will ultimately depend on how much salary the Cubs pay and/or the type of prospect the front office will demand in return.

Agreeing on Byrd's value will be the tricky part here.  The Cubs may view him as a starting CF'er, which would give him more value than the Braves may be willing to part with, especially considering they plan to use him in LF, where his bat would be short, and then eventually as a 4th outfielder when Chipper Jones returns to play 3B and Prado returns to the outfield.

The Cubs, meanwhile, would like to open a spot for Brett Jackson, whom they think is ready to play from day one.  Of course, this is not to say the Cubs will move Byrd just for the sake of moving him.  As we've mentioned, they're in a position right now where they need to maximize the few assets they have to continue rebuilding.

It makes sense for both teams if they can make it work.  Byrd is a good stopgap solution for the Braves.  He may not play everyday for the whole season, but the combination of his ability to play all OF positions,  the much needed RH bat, and the inevitability that Chipper Jones will miss a lot of time this season, it's reasonable to assume Byrd can get enough PAs to make it worth their while.  It also can't hurt that he's a good clubhouse guy that will transition seamlessly to his new team.

Both teams have something to gain here, it's just a matter of  hammering out a deal with which both sides can be happy.

Filed under: Rumors

Tags: Brett Jackson, Marlon Byrd


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  • I don't think the Cubs will be able to get much for Byrd. He turns 35 this season; he only has had two seasons where he hit more than 10 home runs; and he's too slow to steal bases (he stole four last year and five in 2010).
    If the Braves are willing to give up a really good prospect for him the Cubs will jump on it.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    I don't expect to get a top prospect, but the Braves are deep, particularly when it comes to pitching prospects, so I think there's a good chance they can get someone who's at least interesting further down their prospect list.

    Byrd's value to the Braves would be as a decent RH complement in the OF who can fill in at all the OF positions. Gives them some insurance. I'm guessing they'd like to have him, but they're not going to overpay for it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm I that out of touch to think that "paying a large chunk" of his $6.5mm sounds absolutely ridiculous? I'd rather keep him. I know it's about making a spot available for Jackson, but with Cardenas struggling I'd rather pay to have Byrd play CF until May, then as a backup/Cardenas insurance policy for the rest of the year. I suppose it all depends on the prospect that we get in return...better be pretty good to eat the salary of a productive ballplayer who is also a solid clubhouse guy....We are not the Rays, we can afford to keep him.....and it's not like we're dumping a cancer like Carlos Silva or Milton Bradley on someone....

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    Oops meant DeJesus....not Cardenas

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    I'm sure the Cubs wouldn't mind keeping Byrd at all but if a team offered them a deal that gave them a long term asset or two, they'd have to strongly consider it. Remember that Theo has said if they have to make a choice between something that's better for them short term or long term, they're going to error on the side of long term thinking.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    I agree 100%! That comment from the Atl. writer shows arrogance/disrespect of the Cubs. Why would Chi. be willing to pay "large chunk" of Byrd's salary? Are the Cubs desperate to unload him? No. He is definitely an asset, although short term, and should bring a quality prospect back in return...with no salary relief! I guess several other teams still think the Cubs are run by McFail or Hendry. BTW, what's wrong with installing Byrd as the fourth OF (Sori, DeJesus, Jackson, Byrd, Mather) and letting Jackson play? Cubs can afford Byrd even though he would be way overpaid for a reserve OF.

  • In reply to K2me:

    That may be true, but in general, the more salary you pay, the better prospect you get in return. Considering the Cubs are well below their payroll budget, it may be better for them to pay more salary in return for getting a better prospect.

  • Byrd to the Braves for a PTBNL, with Prado being that player when Chipper Jones comes back.

  • That would be a steal for the Cubs. I'd immediately install him at 2B. Unfortunately I don't believe the Braves would be interested in that at all. I think we'd get a prospect.

  • Maybe a deal can be expanded to help both clubs (mostly the Cubs)

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Braves might be interested in someone like Amezaga as well. They plan on starting the rookie Pastornicky at SS with fragile Jack Wilson backing up.

  • That article, though, says little more than if the Cubs pay Byrd, the Braves should be happy to take him - no mention of a real trade, as in the Cubs get something back...

  • In reply to bruno14:

    He did say this as well,

    " I just don’t know how much of his salary they might be willing to pay now, and whether Cubs would demand a good prospect in exchange for picking up a big part of that salary."

    He understands that's a possibility and the Cubs would only make that move if they did get a prospect. How good that prospect is will depend on how much salary they pay and whether the two teams can compromise as to what they feel Byrd's value is.

  • If the Cubs can get Prado for Byrd... I say take it! this is the perfect time to trade Byrd, when injuries occur in spring training and teams need someone to fill in. See Kenny Williams, when you are patient the teams come to you, had you held on to Sergio Santos, the Reds could have given you more than the Blue Jays would have.....idiot.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Braves would need both those bats, so it wouldn't make sense for them. IF they want to make such a trade it would almost certainly be a prospect.

  • Honestly, dealing Byrd to me is a bad idea for a few reasons. One, I don't like paying him to play for someone else. Two, it would be hard to leave Jackson in AAA if Byrd is gone, meaning we probably lose a year of control down the road, and cost ourselves way more than any Byrd savings.

    That being said, if the Braves give up a top 15 prospect for Byrd, I may rethink my stance. But, I would doubt they would give up someone that good for a guy like Byrd. It couldn't be anyone we have to add to the 40 man, as that spot would likely go to Jackson.

  • In reply to bwenger:

    And that may be what it boils down to in the end. The Cubs may want to get prospects similar to the level they got from the Reds for Marshall. Perhaps the Braves would balk at that, I don't really know. Most deals are longshots, but I do think there's a framework here that they could work with so maybe that's a start.

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    The Indians are also looking for a LF and/or CF.

  • Bye, bye, Byrdie?

  • Hey John what do you think about this? With Dejesus struggling why not move Byrd to Right, put BJax in Center, dump David. Move Lahair to Right at the trade deadline and ship Byrd out of town to make room for Rizzo?

  • In reply to johnnywest333:

    Too early to give up on DeJesus. Got to be careful not to weigh 30-40 ABs in the spring more than a solid 9 year career. I think the Cubs will eventually trade Byrd, whether it's now in the spring or by the deadline.

    As for the LaHair situation, we'll just have to let that play out. We don't know how things are going to be 2-3 months from now.

  • byrd = a great clubhouse presence. can play all 3 of spots. an average starter, but if heyward/bourn get hurt hes about as good of an insurance policy as you can possibly get.

    all that being said, the reason the braves want the cubs to take on some cash is because no team wants to pay their 4th outfielder 6.5 million dollars, not that byrd isnt worth it, but the only way he can prove that worth is by playing everyday, not coming off the bench or playing 2-3 times a week max.

    and the braves arent exactly the yankees, they arent flushed with cash. so if the cubs were to pay 3-3.5 million dollars (possibly more), the deal looks a lot better to them.

    i think if the cubs can get a player or 2 who possibly impacts the future, u do the deal.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    I think you hit the nail on the head here on all counts. Good stuff. It illustrates why the trade makes sense for both teams and also some of the hurdles when it comes to actually getting a deal done. The Cubs are going to have to pay money, no question, if they hope to get a deal done.

    It may be different if a team develops a desperate need for an everyday CFer, but that's not the case with the Braves.

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