On Tuesday, the Mets traded John Buck and Marlon Byrd, two players who have zero value to the team beyond the end of the 2013 season, and cash, to the Pirates, for minor league infielder Dilson Herrera, a player who might be worth something in the future, and a player to be named later. That on its face is a win.
Byrd, who will be 36 in three days is enjoying the best season of his career, with career-highs in homeruns (21), OPS (.848) and OPS+ 136. The Pirates, who just placed Starling Marte on the disabled list needed an outfielder. Byrd will slide right into their everyday lineup now. And eventually, when Marte returns, forcing Jose Tabata to the bench.
On the catching side, the Pirates have run with Russell Martin and two guys below replacement level in Tony Sanchez and Michael McKenry. John Buck, who can pop a home run a few times a month, despite having few other virtues as a player, will give fortify their catching depth.
In exchange for two guys whose contracts ended on the final day of the 2013 regular season, the Mets added a nice second base prospect in Herrera. The 19-year-old Herrera is a little dude – listed at 5’10”, 150, who’s played the entire year in the South Atlantic League with the Pirates’ affiliate, the West Virginia Power, who I saw last weekend. Herrera has played this season as the 16th youngest player in the SAL and the 12th youngest hitter and held more than held his own, batting .265/.330/.421 with 27 double and 11 home runs in 109 games to go with 37 walks and 110 strikeouts. (He just missed the cut for my post-season SAL All-Star Ballot.) Herrera has real bat speed. Leading off the second inning in game one of a double-header last Saturday, Gnats starter Tim Peterson tried to sneak a fastball by Herrera who blasted it over the leftfield wall for a homerun.
Although I did not have a stop watch on him, I believe he’s above average as a runner. He looks like he moves well, but he does not steal bases yet – he’s 11 for 17 this year – and did not take aggressive leads. He’s made all the plays I have seen him be asked to make defensively at second base.
There were some reports suggesting that Herrera is a shortstop. At this time, that is false. He played 59 games at third in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2011 and has played second exclusively since in his subsequent 163 professional games. I suspect that his range and arm would be challenged greatly at short, but I wonder if the Mets will still give him a look at shortstop in instructional league this fall to increase their options moving forward. For example, in the 2012 second round, the Mets drafted Matt Reynolds, who had mostly played second and third at Arkansas and stuck him at short as a professional, where he has been solid.
I’m looking forward to seeing Herrera a little bit in the final weekend and playoffs for the Gnats and will have a better picture of his game after a steady week watching him.
As a return for four weeks of Byrd and Buck, Herrera, who could turn into an above-average regular at second if everything breaks right, plus a player to be named later, is a very good haul for Byrd and Buck.
Herrera photo from Flickr user Bryan (begreen90).