Mets should not let Marlon Byrd fly away

“Outfield? What outfield?,” New York Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson famously wise-cracked in November.


Well, the Mets have at least one solid outfielder, and that’s no joke. And if they are smart, they will not let Marlon Byrd get away.


Byrd is having a terrific season, with 15 homers and a personal-best .498 slugging percentage at the All-Star break. His best home run season came in 2009 when he hit 20 for the Rangers.


He has been solid in the field, and has been a great teammate. That’s easy to see by watching him play.


This was after he hit just .210 in 2012 in limited playing time with the Red Sox and Cubs.


The Mets may receive offers for Byrd before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline. Unless they are blown away (think Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran), they should not consider letting Byrd go. Despite his age (35), Byrd is a perfect fit for the 2014 Mets.


Byrd only makes $700,000 this season, which makes him very affordable. If he doesn’t ask for the world, it would be smart to sign him to a one- or two-year deal.


Before he was a member of the Mets, Byrd was suspended for 50 games during the 2012 season for using a banned substance. He said at the time that it was an “inexcusable mistake,” but said that he did not use the medicine to enhance his performance. He has been a model player and person for the Mets.


The Mets could also explore free agents to help their outfield in the offseason, with Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury expected to be available.


But that is always a dicey situation. It’s a good time to mention that Jason Bay’s $66 million contract comes off the books  this offseason. The Mets are paying the free-agent bust Bay to play for the Mariners.


The Mets’  long  and dubious history with free agent outfielders (you can go all the way back to George Foster) should serve as a caution flag.


Regardless, the Mets’ outfield is not looking as bleak as it was in November. Eric Young Jr. has given the Mets’ a legitimate leadoff hitter and speed threat since his arrival in the trade with the Rockies. He could be a good fit for the Mets next year as well.


But for the Mets’ outfield to avoid being a joke, it’s essential that they don’t let Byrd fly away.

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