While the St. Louis Cardinals might be a good fit for Matt Kemp or Nelson Cruz as the Hot Stove League market churns, a much more attainable potential acquisition could be Philadelphia Phillies flychaser Marlon Byrd.
Philadelphia, according to multiple reports, is said to be shopping several of its players including Byrd.
Like Kemp and Cruz, Byrd is an established power hitter with 49 homers over the past two seasons. Unlike Kemp and Cruz, Byrd wouldn't require a multi-year commitment.
Kemp is under contract for five years with more than $100 million owed to him and Cruz wants at least a four-year deal that could pay $15-17 million a year. But Byrd is in the second season of a two-year contract with an option for a third. He'll make a reasonable $8 million in 2015.
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One problem with Byrd is that he's played with six teams over his 13-year career. A guy doesn't jump around that much for no reason. Either his clubs get tired of his antics or the other flaws in his game tend to wear on teams to the point that they're willing to give up on his bat.
The other problem is that, because he is relatively cheap and offers a skill that is in demand, Byrd has drawn a lot of attention from other clubs who'd like to make a deal to acquire him.
I don't know if Byrd is a clean-up hitter as much as a complimentary bat for farther down in the lineup. He strikes out a ton -- 185 last season in 637 plate appearances -- and his batting average was down 14 points from his career average to .264. His .312 on-base percentage also leaves much to be desired.
While Byrd would be cheap, relatively speaking, at best he would be a temporary solution as the club tries to replace Oscar Taveras' lost talent. And that may be what the club is looking for as it waits for Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty to develop. I'd just hate to see the Cardinals give up too much young talent for a short term boost.