The latest from Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal, who is one of the best covering the game right now:
The Brewers, Braves and Astros are among the teams that likely would show interest in Indians right-hander Paul Byrd, who could be moved after righty Jake Westbrook comes off the disabled list. Byrd, 37, has a 3.61 ERA in eight starts, but his $7.5 million salary could be an issue; teams might prefer to wait until the pro-rated obligation would be less. The Indians might prefer to wait, too, though they want to keep lefty Aaron Laffey in their rotation. A trade of Byrd could help them build inventory for a later run at a second baseman or third baseman
Lots to take from this blurb. Join me for some analysis after the jump.
First of all, Rosenthal’s take speaks volumes for what the Indians must think of Laffey. He would command a much higher price on the open market than Byrd, who a team would bring in for a playoff run and then likely cut before the following season. Byrd did prove last season that he can still be an effective hurler in the postseason, which would make him attractive.
Keeping Laffey and dealing Byrd could put extra pressure on Laffey. But, as Rosenthal suggests, moving Byrd could be the first in a series of moves to attract an infielder. So, even though the Tribe would choose to deal Byrd first, it doesn’t mean Laffey couldn’t follow.
Ignoring what we would get in return, here is the order in which the three teams listed will bite on Byrd:
1. Astros. They have one of the hottest hitting teams in the National League right now, with by far the hottest hitter this month in Lance Berkman. Berks, Miguel Tejada, Carlos Lee, and Hunter Pence will make this lineup dangerous all season. The problem with this team is thier pitching. The Astros have zero consistency out of their starting rotation, including Roy Oswalt who is normally reliable. Jose Valverde has been anchoring a once-inconsistent bullpen, but getting to that pen has been their issue.
2. Braves. With john Smoltz’s return constantly being pushed back, and Smoltz’s desire to come back in the bullpen, Atlanta has to be in the market for someone who can bring in the same type of mental toughness and every-fifth-day attitude that Smoltz has. Byrd could fit that role nicely, as well as acting as an insurance policy to a rotation that is currently counting on wild-card youngsters (Jo-Jo Reyes, Jair Jurrgens, Chuck James) to make starts.
3. Brewers. I can’t really see them getting into the trade hopper just because they are so inconsistent at the plate right now. Bringing in a pitcher like Byrd isn’t going to take the bat off of half of the shoulders in Milwaukee’s lineup right now. Don’t get me wrong, from the rotation to the bullpen this team has problems, but none of that matters if their sticks are equally as poor.
This obviously is all complete speculation but where there’s smoke, there could be fire.