A year ago, Torii Hunter was the first major free agent signed. His two-year $26 million contract raised a few eyebrows, and there were lots of other pricey deals to follow.
On Tuesday, Marlon Byrd signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Not bad for a 36-year-old, who had a career high 24 home runs and 88 RBIs in 2013. Byrd also has an $8 million option for 2016.
There was some chatter that the Orioles had some interest in Byrd. Certainly not at anywhere near that price.
But, the Byrd signing can’t be good news for the Orioles. If Byrd, who had to virtually beg for a contract a year ago after a 50-game suspension for PED use, what might the Orioles have to pay for Nate McLouth—or a suitable replacement?
McLouth made $2 million in 2013. Byrd just $800,000. At 32, McLouth doesn’t have the power numbers Byrd did, but he’s a starting outfielder, too. He has some power, hitting 12 homers this past season, and speed, too. McLouth stole 30 bases.
Byrd’s career batting average is .280, 30 points above McLouth’s, but their on-base percentages are about the same (.336 for Byrd, .334 for McLouth).
McLouth had a good two months for the Orioles in 2012, and rescued his career. In 2013, he had a good four months. In his last two, he was used too frequently against left-handers because manager Buck Showalter didn’t have a good alternative.
If Byrd is worth $16 million, McLouth should easily be able to get two years at $10 million, which was the initial forecast. If that’s the case, the Orioles may have to adjust their thinking or overspend on a replacement for McLouth who may or may not be as good.