The Cleveland Indians are once again staring the MLB Trade Deadline square in the eyes with improvements needed throughout their roster. Sitting 6.5 games behind Detroit in the Central Division and four games back in the Wild Card race, if the Indians want to make the postseason two years in a row—a deal will have to be made.
With all eyes focused on acquiring a big-name player like David Price for the top of their rotation, the Indians could make a splash by acquiring a veteran from the NL East’s worst team, the Philadelphia Phillies. No, that player is not former Indians pitcher Cliff Lee—it is outfielder Marlon Byrd.
At 36-years old, Byrd does not solve the Indians hitting woes for the next five years by any means. However, under contract for $8 million a year through at least 2015, he can provide a right-handed power bat to a team in desperate need of one. This would allow the Indians to either groom a bat in the minors or pursue someone in free agency or via trade in the offseason.
Not known as a home run, power bat for the majority of his career—Byrd has seemingly found his stroke over the last few seasons. He hit 24 home runs in 2013 split between the Mets and Pirates, and has already hit 20 with the Phillies this season. On the year, Byrd is batting .273 with 20 home runs, 60 RBI and 22 doubles.
Adding a player like Byrd to the Indians lineup would be a major boost, especially given the fact they do not have many solid right-handed bats. Byrd would instantly be tied with Carlos Santana for the team lead in home runs, be second on the team in runs batted in, fourth among qualifying players in batting average and tied for second on the team in doubles based on his current numbers.
When you look at the numbers and how cheap his salary is, this seems like a no-brainer in comparison to the other options on the roster. The likes of David Murphy and Ryan Raburn have been nowhere near what the Indians thought they were getting in a platoon in right field. Thus, Byrd could step right in from day one and make up for the production that both players have not provided—especially since he can hit both lefties and righties very well.
For a team like the Indians that does not want to part with top prospects, a move for Byrd could be just what the doctor ordered for their lineup. With a fire-sale likely on the horizon in Philadelphia, the Cleveland front office better have them on speed dial to snatch up Byrd before the deadline passes in the next couple of days.