With their NL Central deficit sitting at half-a-game, the Pirates have bolstered their roster by acquiring catcher John Buck and outfielder Marlon Byrd from the Mets. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has confirmed the trade. The Mets will receive minor league infielder Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later in return.
Byrd, 35, is the big addition for the Pirates. He is hitting .285/.330/.518 with 21 home runs in 117 games this year while ranking sixth among qualified outfielders with a 136 OPS+. Pittsburgh's incumbent right fielders, on the other hand, are hitting an NL worst .232/.297/.369 (75 OPS+) with 12 homers. Byrd is owed the pro-rate portion of a $700,000 salary and will be a free agent after the season.
The 33-year-old Buck will presumably take over as Russell Martin's backup. He's hitting .215/.285/.367 (84 OPS+) with 15 home runs this year and, like Byrd, will become a free agent after the season. Buck is owed the remainder of his $6 million salary. The Pirates are taking on approximately $1.25 million in the trade, though the Mets will cover some of that.
Herrera, 19, was ranked as the 20th best prospect in Pittsburgh's farm system before the season by Baseball America. He hit an impressive .265/.330/.421 with 11 homers and 11 stolen bases in 109 games for their Low Class-A affiliate this season. "Herrera has few holes in his swing and makes consistent contact to all fields while showing surprising power for a smaller player," wrote Baseball America in their 2013 Prospect Handbook.
The player to be named later could be an undetermined minor leaguer or a player on the Pirates 40-man roster who has yet to clear trade waivers. Teams have six months from the date of the trade to name the player, but expect it to happen long before that. These things usually don't drag out very long.
The Cardinals (77-54) have won eight of their last ten games, passing the Pirates (76-54) in the NL Central. The two clubs are separated by percentage points and have six head-to-head games left to play this season, including three this coming weekend at PNC Park. Needless to say, that's an enormous series.
Earlier on Tuesday we heard there was a "high degree of probability" the Mets would make a trade or two within the next 24-48 hours. They brought catcher Anthony Recker and outfielder Matt den Dekker to New York from Triple-A Las Vegas to have on stand-by in case a deal was made. At 58-71, the Amazin's sit in fourth place in the NL West.