Well, the offseason is officially in swing, as the Philadelphia Phillies have reportedly agreed to a two year deal with free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd, worth $16 million.
Interestingly, Jim Bowden's column this morning predicted 2 years, $16 million for Byrd. All three of the predictors in the Heyman prediction piece had 2 years for Byrd, ranging from $15-18M. FanGraphs' crowdsourcing project had 2 years, $15M.
Byrd is a difficult one to figure out...he turned 36 in August, and thus will be 38 years and one month when this contract runs out. He's also coming off his best offensive season, putting up a 136 wRC+ (his previous best was 122, with Texas in 2008) and putting up career highs in home runs, slugging, and ISO, while logging a .353 BABIP.
This is on the heels of a disappointing 2011 campaign (94 wRC+) and a disastrous 2012 season (26 wRC+) that had folks sticking a fork in Byrd. The mid-30s power-heavy career resurgence is particularly eye-opening given that Byrd has previously acknowledged working with Stan Conte, and served a 50 game suspension in 2012 due to testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Steamer isn't optimistic about Byrd's chances of living up to the contract in 2014, projecting a 97 wRC+ and a 0.6 WAR. I'm personally less than sanguine about his chances of being all that good, as well.
From the Rangers' standpoint, this is noteworthy because the Phillies were a team widely expected to be in on Nelson Cruz. Jeff Passan said the Phillies balked at his initial asking price of 5 years, $75 million, and apparently decided to strike quickly with Byrd rather than see how the market shook out. With one of Cruz's prime suitors out of the picture, it increases the possibility Cruz comes back to Texas.