Marlon Byrd's name has been mentioned throughout spring training and into the season as a possible trade piece for the Chicago Cubs. He is owed $6.5 million this season, the last year on his current three-year contract.
The 34-year-old could net the Cubs a decent prospect and make room for Brett Jackson, the highly-touted outfielder playing at Triple-A Iowa to start 2012.
There have been three teams that have reportedly had significant interest in Byrd, all coming from the NL East. The Washington Nationals have made the most progress, as it was rumored that a Marlon Byrd-for-John Lannan deal was in the works.
Though, according to a source from the Nationals, Washington never inquired about the trade and will wait until Bryce Harper is called up rather than make a move to get an outfielder. The Cubs also have more than enough starting pitching depth to warrant a trade for Lannan.
The Braves were platooning players in left field while Chipper Jones was out after having surgery on his left knee, but now that Chipper is back and Prado is in left, it is hard to see the team taking on Byrd's contract and having him ride the bench.
The Philadelphia Phillies are lower on the radar, but seem like a perfect fit for Byrd. They are rumored to be potential suitors for the outfielder, and the move makes sense. The team is getting older, and may lose Cole Hamels at the end of the year, but still has a chance to contend for at least this season.
With Ryan Howard out, the Phillies are starting John Mayberry Jr., who has played most of his career in the outfield, at first base. This leaves the starting left fielder job to...Juan Pierre.
The strictly-singles hitter is coming off his worst stolen base output since his rookie year and has started the season just 3-for-14. Marlon Byrd would provide much more pop in a lineup already missing Howard and Chase Utley for an extended period of time.
The problem with moving Byrd is his contract, and the Cubs will probably have to eat a chunk of it. Teams are also not going to give up any significant prospects in a deal for the 34-year-old. The Cubs want to bolster their weak bullpen, and a decent pitching prospect or two along with a split of Byrd's remaining contract will likely be enough to move him.
The Cubs haven't gotten what they wanted yet, and if the Phillies or other suitors don't act within the next couple of weeks, we may not see a trade until the July deadline.