Pirates acquire Marlon Byrd and John Buck to bolster postseason run

Denis Poroy

The Pirates get a bat they need to keep fighting in the NL Central, and the Mets unload a couple of veterans.

The Mets were in a position to trade veterans on waivers, and the Pirates needed to add to their roster to strengthen themselves for a run at the postseason for the first time since 1992. The two sides have converged according to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin, with the Mets sending outfielder Marlon Byrd and backstop John Buck to the Pirates.

Pittsburgh was the mystery team that claimed Byrd earlier on Tuesday, and the need for his services was obvious. It might not have been a week ago, but after outfielder Starling Marte landed on the disabled list with a hand contusion, a hole that the Pirates couldn't afford opened in their lineup. Byrd won't be a perfect replacement -- Marte was hitting .282/.343/.443 with 35 steals in 48 attempts to go along with plus defense in left -- but if he continues to hit like he did while with the Mets, he'll be just fine.

It's hard to believe given his rough 2012 that saw him released mid-season by the Red Sox prior to a 50-game suspension for PEDs, but Byrd has hit .285/.330/.518 with 21 homers and 52 extra-base hits for the Mets this season.

By acquiring him before the end of August, the Pirates have guaranteed that, should the option arise, Byrd can join their postseason roster, either as a replacement for Marte should there be a setback in his recovery, or simply as another bat in a lineup that could use one, especially in right field, where multiple Pirates have combined for a slash of .232/.297/.369, 25 percent worse than the average at the position.

As for Buck, he was pushed out of his starting role in New York by prospect Travis d'Arnaud, and won't start in Pittsburgh, either, not with Russell Martin in charge behind the plate. The Pirates struggled to get much out of backup Michael McKenry in 2013 before he headed to the DL, though, and his replacement, Tony Sanchez, provided even less, so Buck's presence could be welcome, albeit in a less significant capacity than Byrd's.

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Mets will receive Dilson Herrera, a 19-year-old second baseman with an above-average line in the High-A Sally League, in return for Byrd and Buck. The Colombian-born Herrera entered the season as the 20th-ranked prospect in the Pirates' system, according to Baseball America, but with room to grow, especially as he transitioned to the keystone. He's a long ways off from getting there, but he would be just the 10th Colombian to ever play in the majors. There is also a player to be named later involved, which implies that the remaining member of the trade did not clear waivers and could be on the Pirates 40-man roster.

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