Byrd, Phillies agree to $16 million, 2-year deal
ORLANDO, Fla. — Marlon Byrd cashed in on his comeback season.
The former Pirates outfielder and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed Tuesday to a $16 million, two-year contract, a deal that came less than a year after he was playing in Mexico's winter league.
Byrd, 36, hit a career-high 24 homers last season for the New York Mets and Pirates, who acquired him Aug. 27. He batted .364 with one homer and five RBIs in six playoff games after hitting .291 during the season with 88 RBIs, one short of his career best.
“Marlon adds a significant upgrade both offensively and defensively to our outfield,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “He has been particularly productive against left-handed pitching, which was a serious challenge for us this past season.”
Byrd was drafted by the Phillies and began his big league career in Philadelphia. His agreement calls for $8 million in each of the next two seasons and includes an $8 million team option for 2016, The option would become guaranteed if he has 1,100 at-bats in the next two seasons.
“If you don't want to give up your first-round pick, Marlon Byrd is arguably the best available outfield bat,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “We feared he was out of our price range immediately. We stayed engaged in the process, and Marlon and his agents talked about wanting to come back to Pittsburgh. He loved his time there. The environment and playing for a winner and playing in front of that fan base was something that really intrigued him.”
Both the dollars and the years offered by the Phillies were at a level the Pirates were unprepared to match.
“The timing really bit us, and Ruben did a great job of going out and getting his guy early — what we did with (Russell) Martin a year ago,” Huntington said. “We weren't in a position to be able to move this quickly.”
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was disappointed to see Byrd leave.
“He meant a lot to our club,” he said. “The big man could play some defense and swing the bat. He brought an edge, major league experience. He showed up every day; preparation and attention to detail was there. We'll miss Marlon.”
A career .280 hitter with 106 homers and 533 RBIs, Byrd was given a 50-game suspension in 2012 following a positive test for Tamoxifen, which can reduce side effects of steroid use and increase testosterone.