Chicago, IL, USA; Former Chicago Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd (24) hits an RBI single during the fourth inning against the Washington Nationals on opening day at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE
Michael Bowden, who was designated for assignment last Sunday to make room for an outfielder, has now been dealt to the Chicago Cubs for one. Marlon Byrd is coming to Boston, in exchange for Bowden and a player to be named later, with the Cubs paying for nearly all of Byrd's salary for the rest of the season.
This is a move that helps out both teams, as the Cubs get to have one fewer outfielder involved in their logjam out there (and eventually opening room for prospect Brett Jackson), while the Red Sox get someone who isn't Jason Repko to patrol the outfield until Carl Crawford and eventually Jacoby Ellsbury return to the team from their injuries.
Byrd isn't the player he used to be, but he's not a bad addition, either. He's currently off to a poor start, with just three hits on the year, but hit .285/.334/.437 with a 103 OPS+ from 2009 through 2011, and did so while also playing quality defense. He's also right-handed, and while not a beast like Cody Ross, can swing the bat against lefties (.280/.337/.442 in his career, versus .278/.338/.408 against his fellow righties).
He's absolutely a better fit for the club than Repko, whose glove was a positive but whose weak bat likely canceled out those contributions. If it turns out the 34-year-old Byrd is in fact incapable of being productive anymore, with the Cubs picking up the salary anyway, the Red Sox could always just dump him from the roster once the actual starting outfield is back without having to feel bad about the sunk cost in cash. Unless the PTBNL turns out to be anything of substance, Bowden isn't much of a price to pay, either, as he doesn't even have a spot in a bullpen that's currently struggling to be consistent and productive.
Bowden will get to move to an easier division and league, and pitch in a more neutral home park. Remember this if he does succeed with the Cubs out of the bullpen, as it's not the same situation he would have faced (or has faced repeatedly) during his tryouts with the Red Sox in Boston.