Marlon Byrd traded to Red Sox for Michael Bowden, PTBNL

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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.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.