ORLANDO, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Marlon Byrd has agreed to a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, according to CBSSports.com/WFAN baseball insider Jon Heyman, after rebounding to hit a career-high 24 homers this year for the New York Mets and Pittsburgh.
The 36-year-old outfielder was acquired by the Pirates on Aug. 27 and hit .364 in six postseason games with one homer and five RBIs. He batted .291 during the season and had 88 RBIs, one short of his career best. Last year, Byrd had a base salary of $700,000 and earned another $100,000 in performance bonuses.
Byrd was suspended for 50 games in 2012 following a positive test for a drug that can reduce side effects of steroid use and increase testosterone. At the time, Byrd said he mistakenly used the medication for a recurrence of a condition that earlier required surgery. He says he did not use it for performance enhancement.
His talks with the Phillies were first reported by radio station WIP.
The Phillies have sought a right-handed hitting outfielder with power since Jayson Werth left for Washington following the 2010 season. Ben Francisco, John Mayberry Jr., and Delmon Young weren’t the answer. Hunter Pence was acquired in July 2011 and traded a year later.
Darin Ruf hit 14 homers in 251 at-bats last season while starting 27 games in right field, 15 in left and 28 at first base. But Ruf, a converted first baseman, is hardly the defensive player Byrd is and is viewed as a role player off the bench.
Philadelphia’s outfielders hit .259 with 57 homers and a .407 slugging percentage last year.
Byrd was once a prized prospect in the Phillies’ minor league system. He finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2003 after hitting .303, but struggled the next two seasons and was traded to Washington.
Byrd has also played for Texas, the Chicago Cubs and Boston in a 12-year career with seven teams. He was an NL All-Star with the Cubs in 2010 and his best season before last year came with the Rangers in 2009 when he batted .283 with 20 homers and 89 RBIs.
Byrd is a career .280 hitter with 106 homers and 533 RBIs.
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