When the news that Marlon Byrd was claimed on waivers by a National League team, it almost made too much sense that that team would be the Pirates. Obviously, it was:
Obviously Byrd is the big catch here; he's having a really strong year at the plate (.285/.330/.518 with 21 homers), and he's a pretty competent defensive outfielder. That means that he can fill in for Starling Marte while he's on the disabled list, then slide over to right field once Marte is healthy again. Jose Tabata's been good at the plate lately, but Byrd's certainly more of a complete hitter and player to have round out the outfield picture on a daily basis.
Buck is exactly what he seems to be, which is a backup catcher. He started the year off strong and has 15 home runs, but his wRC+ on the season is only 82. He will presumably free the Pirates up to use Tony Sanchez's bat off of the bench once rosters expand in September, which is something that they've generally been slow to do with Sanchez as the primary backup catcher. Really, it's a depth move that helps the team more than Kelly Shoppach. I wouldn't read more into it than that; the way the Pirates have used Sanchez this month indicates to me that they have high hopes for him. Buck simply makes them a little more rounded for a stretch run.
In return, the Mets are getting Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later. Herrera's nothing to sneeze at. He's a young 19 (meaning that he won't turn 20 until next March) and he's having a pretty strong season with West Virginia in his first year of full-season ball, hitting .265/.330/.421. There's been some talk of him as a shortstop in the past, but he's only ever played second for the Pirates and I think his slight build (he's listed as 5'10"/150) will probably keep him there. He's a nice, solid middle infield prospect and a good return for two rental players (both Buck and Byrd will be free agents), but he's not a top-tier prospect (Pirates Prospects has him smack in the middle of their Top 20 list), either. With the presence of Alen Hanson in the system (depending on what position you think Hanson will end up at, and what you think of Jordy Mercer long-term, I suppose) I think that he's expendable under the right circumstances.
My gut feeling here is that this qualifies. Byrd represents a potential big upgrade over the right field struggles that the Pirates have been saddled with all year. Moving Tabata (and later, Sanchez) to the bench to pinch hit adds some depth that's sorely been missing there all year. It's been apparent that the Pirates' offense needed something down the stretch here, so let's hope that Marlon Byrd is it.
I'm still wondering why the Reds passed on Byrd; I know that GMs don't like to make enemies, and that there can be a certain "I'll scratch your back and you scratch mine" gentlemen's agreement about post-deadline deals, but the Reds bench is pretty weak--Byrd is certainly a better option than Heisey and Xavier Paul--and even if they couldn't work a deal with the Mets, that keeps Byrd out of Pittsburgh. If I'm the Reds GM, I never let this happen.
@wkkortas I agree. Why would the Redlegs not want Byrd or at least block him from Bucs? Seems odd - Reds GM asleep at the switch? I doubt it but....?
@mwr505 @wkkortas It's Neal Huntington's version of the rope-a-dope. He's been so slow to address the team's obvious need for a bat that I'm sure the Reds figured he was content to stand pat for the rest of the season rather than part with any of his precious prospects. Clearly the Reds don't have a GM as deviously clever as we have here in the 'Burgh!
@wkkortas I don't consider Herrera a top tier prospect. When I made that comment, I was more referring to the yinzers calling into talk radio demanding we swap Taillon or Polanco for Alex Rios. I have no problem trading middling prospects for help in a pennant race.
Of course, I reserve the right to Monday morning quarterback this trade if the PTBNL turns out to be someone I like (or Herrera becomes the next Robbie Cano).
Superb! It's about time! Welcome, Marlon. Perhaps Marte getting hurt helped us in the long run by getting NH to realize this had to be done. Now, can we find a way to keep G.Jones out of the lineup too?!
This is a good deal; Byrd is a clear upgrade in right, and a reasonable replacement for Marte if he's down for an extended period. Buck is pretty much the cost of doing business; at least he's squarely in the popular veteran/good clubhouse influence camp. Herrera's a good prospect, but he's a bat-first/bat-only middle infielder, and if Hanson can't play short, there's no room at the inn for Herrera. The Pirates don't probably "win" this deal, given that Herrera has much more of a future than Byrd and Buck combined, but sometimes you have to treat this year as The Year.