Marlon Byrd hit a career-high 24 homers last year with the Mets and Pirates. (AP)
Updated: 2:30 p.m.
ORLANDO, Fla. – The Phillies have the right-handed bat they’ve been looking to add to their outfield.
The team has agreed on a two-year, $16 million contract with Marlon Byrd, sources confirmed to CSNPhilly.com. The agreement, first reported by Michael Barkann on WIP radio, is pending a physical.
Byrd will be returning to the team that selected him in the 10th round of the 1999 draft. He broke in with the Phillies in 2002 and has spent time with six teams. He was an all-star with the Cubs in 2010.
Byrd, 36, is coming off a career year in which he hit .291 with 24 homers and 88 RBIs for the Mets and Pirates in 2013. His .511 slugging percentage was fifth-best in the National League.
Byrd’s impressive 2013 season came after he fell off the radar in last winter's free-agent market and went to spring training on a minor-league contract with the Mets.
The previous year, Byrd served a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2012.
At a salary of just $700,000, Byrd was one of baseball's best bargains in 2013. If he can put up similar production over the life of his deal in Philadelphia, he could be worth $8 million per season. However, Byrd hit just .260 with 10 homers, 44 RBIs and a .663 OPS the previous two seasons so there is definitely risk on the Phillies' part.
Byrd is likely to play right field for the Phillies and bat in the middle of the order, probably behind Ryan Howard. The Phillies had been looking for a right-handed-hitting outfielder to use behind Howard.
What Byrd’s signing means for Darin Ruf is unclear. He could stay with the team as a reserve outfielder/first baseman or become a trade candidate.
Byrd fleshes out an outfield that includes Domomic Brown in left and Ben Revere in center. Neither Brown nor Revere are locks to be back in 2014. One of them could be used in a trade. The Phillies would still like to improve their outfield defense and have long had their eye on Angels centerfielder Peter Bourjos, who is said to be available in the right deal.
Signing Byrd ostensibly confirms the approach that Phillies officials will take on the free-agent market this winter. The team is not looking to sign top-tier, high-priced free agents. Rather, it is looking at lower priced, mid-market talent.
The Phils remain in the market for starting pitching and relief help. Starter Bronson Arroyo and reliever Joe Smith are two pitchers that the Phils have discussed.
The team is also trying to re-sign catcher Carlos Ruiz.