The Texas Rangers struck a deal on Wednesday with Marlon Byrd, their 30-year-old arbitration-eligible outfielder. Why might this be of interest to Cubs fans? Because, at least according to WMVP's Bruce Levine, Byrd is on Jim Hendry's shopping list.
The right-handed hitting Byrd was drafted by the Phillies in 1999, reached the majors in 2002, and spent three-plus seasons in Philadelphia before he was traded to the Nationals in May of '05. He played with the Nats in '05 and '06, after which he became a free agent and signed with the Rangers.
After starting the '07 season in the minors, he was called up on May 26th and gave the Texas offense an immediate jolt, hitting .375 with a 936 OPS through the end of June. In a total of 109 games for the Rangers last season, Byrd reached career highs in batting average (.307), HR (10), RBI (70), OPS (814) and OPS+ (113).
In six MLB seasons (517 games), Byrd has hit .273/.334/.394, with 355 strikeouts and 137 walks. He has also stolen 36 bases in 48 attempts.
Byrd can play all three outfield positions, though he has seen significantly more time in center field than in either of the corners. Still, according to the Dallas Morning News,
Byrd "is expected to hold down a corner outfield spot this season. Which corner will depend on the health of recently-signed outfielder Milton Bradley."With the Cubs, Byrd could supplant Matt Murton as a reserve outfielder, back-up Felix Pie or Sam Fuld in center, or maybe hold down the position altogether, until the Cubs deem one of the youngsters ready for the job.