Saturday night sealed Byrd’s fate with the Chicago Cubs, as the 35 year-old outfielder was sent to the Boston Red Sox for 25 year-old right handed reliever Michael Bowden.
The Cubs will pay nearly off of the $6.5 million remaining on Byrd’s contract, which ends after the 2012 season. Byrd, a fan favorite at Wrigley Field, hasn’t been quite the same after being hit near the left eye by Red Sox reliever Alfredo Aceves last year. Ironically, Aceves and Byrd will now be teammates.
Byrd is hitting .070 with an OBP of .149 so far in 2012.
The dealing of Byrd is no surprise for Cubs fans, but the timing seems odd. The Cubs could have possibly acquired more in return for the veteran if they would have dealt him before the season, or at the trade deadline. The timing worked well for the Red Sox, though.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford are both stranded on the disabled list, and Jason Repko collided with the center field wall on Friday.
The newly acquired Bowden is a native of Winfield, Ill. and attended Waubonsie Valley in Aurora for high school. He was drafted by Boston with the 47th pick in the 2005 amateur draft. Bowden’s been bouncing between AAA and the big leagues since making his debut in 2008. In 20 innings for the Red Sox in 2011, he posted an ERA of 4.05. Bowden got some experience being a closer in AAA lastyear, saving 16 games.
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer reiterated that even with the Byrd trade, Cubs’ top prospect Brett Jackson will remain in AAA Iowa until he is fully prepared for the big leagues.
Jackson is hitting .242/.342/.484 in 73 plate appearances in 2012. He has hit 2 homers, and driven in 8 runs, but his high strikeout rates remain to be a problem. Until Jackson shows he can work better counts, and avoid a massive amount of strikeouts, he’ll likely remain in AAA. Theo Epstein is a believer in fully seasoning players in AAA before calling them up to the major leagues.
Tony Campana was called up to the majors in response to the Byrd trade, and went 1 for 2 with a walk after getting the start in CF on Sunday. Look for Campana, Reed Johnson and Joe Mather to get starts in CF until Jackson is called up.