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.

Minor League Baseball had its worst attendance in 14 years

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Baseball American reports today that total attendance at minor league baseball games reached a 14-year low in 2018. Total attendance was 40,450,337. That’s a drop of 1,382,027 fans compared to last season.

Around a third of that drop is attributable to fewer scheduled games but, as Baseball America notes, even when you go to average attendance per game, there was a sharp drop off this season. BA suggests that this represents a leveling off after over a decade’s worth of large increases in minor league attendance. Which sound pretty plausible. Overall, attendance numbers are still massively above where they were 15-20 years ago, so this seems more like a correction than a real problem. The BA article goes into some good analysis of the decline.

All of that said, revenues are up for the minors, in large part because of merchandise sales and because minor league ballparks have a lot more amenities and better concessions than they used to have and fans are willing to pay for them.