Pirates-Mets trade: Bucs add Byrd and Buck, Mets get a lot younger

Norm Hall

Okay, so Monday was a pretty rough day for Mets fans. It would have been just about impossible for Tuesday to make Mets fans forget Monday. But you know, as Tuesdays for Mets fans go, this one just got pretty, pretty, pretty good. Thanks to a trade that netted an actual prospect -- second baseman Dilson Herrera -- for the price of ... well, five weeks of senior citizens Marlon Byrd and John Buck. What sort of prospect is Herrera? He's got a 751 OPS this season in the Sally League, which is pretty good for a 19-year-old. No, he's not a Grade A prospect. Nor was he a Grade A prospect six months ago ...

Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com ranked Herrera as the Pirates' 11th-best prospect going into the 2013 season in his 2013 Prospect Watch article, and listed the young second baseman as the 9th best prospect in all of baseball at that position. John Sickels ranked Herrera as the Pirates' 9th best prospect going into the 2013 season in his Pittsburgh Pirates Top 20 Prospects for 2013 list on MinorLeagueBall.com. He gave the young Colombian a B- grade, citing his plus power for a middle infielder and for a kid his age. In his Pre-Season Prospects in Review article, Mr. Sickels stood pat with his grade and opinion.

Heh. Mr. Sickels. I like that.

I also like this deal for the Mets. Wait. Like? No. Love. I love this deal for the Mets.

They signed Marlon Byrd for $700,000 this season, which in the baseball world is the same as signing a player for zero. Basically, it's like, "Hey, we can't really afford to pay you or anything, but you can have your own locker and stuff and living in New York is really great if your parents can help you with the rent."

John Buck didn't come quite as cheap. He's making six million bucks this season. But Buck came over in the deal that also netted prospects Noah Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud, and somebody had to keep all the pitches from hitting the backstop until d'Arnaud was ready. Maybe the Mets could have gotten someone better in the deal that sent R.A. Dickey and Josh Thole to the Blue Jays ... but I suspect they did the best they could; the Jays wanted a backup catcher to work with Dickey, so they needed to find a home for Buck.

Anyway, would you pay $6 million for Dilson Herrera? I think yeah, you probably would. Somewhere close, anyway. Herrera might never reach the majors, but if he does reach the majors and plays regularly for just one season, he'll be worth $6 million almost by definition.

But the Mets couldn't really have planned this. They might have guessed that Buck would be dispensable, but they couldn't have counted on Byrd being highly desirable in late August. Once these things did happen, though, it became essential to turn Buck and Byrd into something of future value. And now they've done that. They essentially gave up nothing of value, and got something, maybe a LOT of something, of value.

Forgetting everything that's happened before, I don't know how the Mets could have done any better on the 27th of August.

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