(Do) Some Players Have Unreasonable Expectations (?)
Marlon Byrd just signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Native Americans, and I can’t quite understand how this right-handed power bat didn’t sign for a major league contract. I also have to wonder whether the reason for it wasn’t unreasonable expectations about what he was worth after the Giants turned down his $8 million option.
Byrd is now 38 and doesn’t have a tremendous career platoon differential. Even so, he has hit 24, 25 and 23 home runs the last three seasons, has a a career .802 career OPS against lefties, and had an .820 OPS against lefties in 2015. That’s a major league player, and a major league contract, no matter how old Byrd is.
Last year, the Giants were, as far as I can tell, very fair to Byrd. After they acquired him around the trade deadline, their position was, as long as we are in the hunt, Byrd will play, because we think he gives us our best chance to win. But, if we are mathematically eliminated, Byrd is riding the pine, and we going to look at our young guys, who might help us for a lot less money in the future. The Gints were eliminated, and Byrd road the pine so that his $8 million option would not vest. That is the way it should be in this, our capitalist society.
Did Byrd and his agent(s) think that because he had an $8 million option that he was still worth $8M, or $6M or even $4M in 2016? At any rate, I don’t understand how a proven right-handed power bat, even as a strictly platoon/bench player, particularly to an AL team, isn’t worth $2M or $3M in today’s game.
This wasn’t a good year for free agent outfielders. This off-season, teams wanted (at least based on the contract amounts and when the contracts were signed) pitching, pitching and more pitching. Given that pitching is only about 37.5% (fangraphs.com can probably give you the exact percentage, if you know where to look on their website) of the game, this seems like a typical MLB over-reaction to the last season (0r couple of seasons) that was.
MLB teams, like American businesses in general, are not particularly good at looking more than about three years into the future. If teams, like the recent Giants, win with a lot of pitching, then everyone over-values pitching, until teams with great position players win. But, of course, teams with great position players on both sides of the ball tend to make their pitching look better than it really is, so pitching remains relatively over-valued.
At any rate, I don’t understand why somebody didn’t give Marlon Byrd a major league contract, and I suspect that Byrd’s negotiating position had something to do with it.