Valuing the Byrd in hand

August 27, 2008 - 5:25 am
Paul Byrd's value to the Red Sox is already apparent. The Sox acquired him to stabilize the rotation with a veteran presence. He permitted the team the luxury of sending Clay Buchholz back to the minors, where he can work through his mechanical and mental challenges under less glaring scrutiny. Byrd, who starts tonight, has made little secret about his enthusiasm for pressure situations, and despite an 0-3 career regular-season record in Yankee Stadium, he has pitched well there, forging a 4.18 ERA. He also was the winning pitcher for the Indians in Game 4 of last year's Division Series in New York, allowing two runs in five innings to earn a victory that clinched Cleveland's passage into the Championship Series. That package suggests that the cost of roughly $2 million that the Red Sox will pay for his services this season is a reasonable one. And there is a chance that his value to Boston could increase come the offseason. Byrd, who is in the final year of a three-year deal, is 23-19 with a 4.60 ERA over the last two years. Those numbers, according to a major-league source, will likely establish him as a Type B free agent following this year. If the Sox offer Byrd arbitration and he signs with another team, they will receive a draft pick in the sandwich round of the 2009 draft. In recent years, the Sox have plucked players such as Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Michael Bowden and Nick Hagadone in that round. Of course, there is a chance that Byrd will could accept the arbitration offer, given the likelihood that he would earn roughly $8 million in that scenario. The Indians could not afford that possibility and so had no plans to offer arbitration, leading to their willingness to trade Byrd to any taker willing to assume the rest of his salary this year. The Sox, however, have greater risk tolerance, and if Byrd lands on their payroll as a solid rotation insurance policy in 2009 for roughly the same money that is being paid to Curt Schilling this year, it won't throw their payroll into chaos. So, there is at least a chance that Byrd will impact the Sox beyond this year, whether in a Boston uniform or another one. According to this attempt to unlock the riddle of free-agent compensation, if the Sox acquire Mark Kotsay from the Braves, it would merely be in an effort to benefit from his services in the outfield over the rest of this year. He would not qualify as a Type A or Type B free agent that would net any compensation draft picks.