April 5, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd (24) hits an RBI single during the fourth inning against the Washington Nationals on opening day at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE
Chicago Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd has two hits so far in the 2012 season. Byrd’s 2 hits have come over the span of 24 at bats on the season. With an average of .083, it is no secret that Byrd may have forgotten his bat in Arizona. If Byrd’s slump had taken place during the middle of the season rather at the beginning of the season, Byrd’s struggles may have gone unnoticed. More than the reason of contributing to the teams’ run production, the Cubs need Byrd to have a quick turnaround in order for Cubs’ president Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer to advance in their efforts in continuing to rebuild the Cubs’ organization.
If the Cubs are going to advance to the next step in their rebuilding project, it would entail top prospects Brett Jackson, Anthony Rizzo, and third baseman Josh Vitters being called up to the Major League level. Jackson and Rizzo are believed to be on the same pace while Vitters is expected to be a couple months behind. In order for the Cubs to bring Jackson up to the Major League level, the team would first have to trade one of their current starting outfielders. While left fielder Alfonso Soriano has gotten off to a hot start to begin the season, no team has come calling to Epstein and Hoyer to express interest in the outfielder that has $54 million owed to him over the next three seasons. The Cubs have no plans as of yet to trade David DeJesus, but the new regime may be open to trading any player on the Cubs’ roster. That would leave only one option for the front office, and that would be to trade Byrd. If the Cubs are going to trade Byrd, then the center fielder is going to have to fight off his early season slump and get back to be being the .280 hitter that he is capable of being.
During Spring Training, the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves both expressed interest in Byrd. Though, it would appear that talks with the Nationals were more serious than talks with the Braves. The Cubs were believed to have made an offer for Nationals’ pitcher Tom Gorzelanny, and the team is also believed to have interest in John Lannan. While the magnitude of the Cubs’ offer has not been disclosed, it is believed that Epstein and Hoyer were dangling Byrd in front of the Nationals during those talks.
The Cubs may have another suitor for Byrd. That suitor happens to be the team that the Cubs have been in an off-season’s worth of negotiations regarding compensation for Theo Epstein. It was reported on Friday that Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury will miss the next six to eight weeks due to a dislocated shoulder he suffered during Friday’s home opener for the Red Sox. The Red Sox have a lot of options which include simply having a center field by committee until Ellsbury recovers. But it is worth speculating that the Red Sox could have some interest in Byrd considering there were whispers that team had interest in the Cubs’center fielder during the off-season.
If the Red Sox opt to look outsider of the organization for a temporary replacement to Ellsbury, then the team will likely come calling to the Cubs. Considering where Byrd is at in his career, the veteran would likely welcome a fourth outfielder’s role once Ellsbury returns from his injury. Not to mention, a trade to the Red Sox would give Byrd the opportunity to be on a contender once again. Byrd’s value is not all that high, especially if the Cubs are hoping that another team takes on the $6.5 million that Byrd is owed for the season. But the benefit to trading Byrd would be to open up a spot for Jackson when he deemed ready for the Major Leagues. In a season that is geared towards rebuilding, that should be the goal for the Cubs’ front office.