UPDATE: Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports that Bowden is indeed headed to Chicago along with a player to be named later. The Cubs will cover “most” of the $6.5 million remaining on Byrd’s contract.
5:51: According to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com, Marlon Byrd confirmed that he has been traded to the Red Sox. The deal will be officially announced after today’s Yankees/Red Sox game. It’s not clear how much of Byrd’s salary the Cubs will cover or who the Red Sox will send to Chicago.
12:42 PM: Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune writes that the Cubs “could be getting” right-hander Michael Bowden, who would get a chance to pitch out of the bullpen.
12:16 PM: Worry no more, Red Sox fans. Your old friends Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are here to help.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is reporting that the Red Sox are closing in on a deal for Cubs’ outfielder Marlon Byrd. Jacoby Ellsbury is currently sidelined with a subluxed right shoulder and Carl Crawford is still on the comeback trail from wrist surgery, so Byrd would be thrown right into the mix with Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney and Darnell McDonald.
Byrd is off to a woeful start at the plate this season, batting .070/.149/.070 with three singles, three walks and 10 strikeouts over his first 47 plate appearances. The 34-year-old outfielder is owed $6.5 million this this season in the final year of a three-year, $15 million deal, so the Cubs will almost certainly have to cover a large chunk of his remaining salary.
If the deal goes down, it will be interesting to see where the Cubs go from here in their outfield. Tony Campana was called up to replace the injured Ryan Dempster on the active roster, so he’ll presumably start in center field for now, but trading Byrd could speed up the timeline for top prospect outfielder Brett Jackson. There’s also the chance that the Cubs could slide David DeJesus from right to center, move Bryan LaHair to the outfield and promote Anthony Rizzo to play first base.
The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:
“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”
Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.
That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon says C/OF Kyle Schwarber is the frontrunner to bat leadoff for the team this season, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.
Schwarber, 23, has hit out of the leadoff spot only eight times in his young career, but the move up the batting order mostly just means more opportunities for him to swing his potent bat. He hit .246/.355/.487 with 16 home runs and 43 RBI in 273 plate appearances in his rookie season in 2015.
Schwarber suffered serious injuries early in the 2016 season when he collided with teammate Dexter Fowler in the Arizona outfield. He tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments, which everyone thought ended his 2016 season entirely. However, Schwarber returned for the start of the World Series against the Indians. In 20 plate appearances over five games, Schwarber contributed six singles, a double, and three walks.