Multiple sources have reported that the Cubs have inked free agent center fielder Marlon Byrd to a three year, $15 million contract. The question now becomes, is he worth it?
While Byrd is a good player and was no doubt the best available free agent center fielder on the market, he fails to address a number of the Cubs needs.
Byrd is a relatively solid hitter, coming off of a career year. This immediately begs the question, did the Cubs sign the Byrd who hit .295 with 40 home runs in the last three seasons in Texas, or the one who went from top prospect to fourth outfielder in his first five seasons in the majors and hit .263 with just 20 home runs?
Furthermore, the Cubs are still in desperate need of someone who can get on base an serve as a catalyst atop the order. Byrd posted just a .329 OBP last season while striking out 98 times versus just 32 walks. He also provides little in the way of speed on the bases, something else the Cubs are in great need of.
For all intents and purposes, Byrd is a decent hitter who will probably be plugged into the number six spot in the lineup. He has little room to improve on last years line of .283 BA, 20 HR, 89 RBI and I would be surprised to not see his average drop a bit.
My guess would be that after months of searching for a trade option, Hendry realized that he needed to jump on the best available option before he was stuck plugging Scott Podsednik or Rick Ankiel into the lineup.
Maybe he will continue to improve as he is still just 31, and I certainly hope that is the case, I just do not think he solves the problems the Cubs were and still are facing.