Marlon Byrd got a minor league deal from the New York Mets this off-season, giving him a chance to win a spot on the big league roster during spring training. Byrd is doing everything he can to make good on that chance, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post, because if he doesn’t break camp with the Mets, he is going to retire, telling Puma-
"I kind of look at it as a last chance. If I don’t make this team, I don’t see many other chances in baseball. That’s the way I’m playing, like it is my last chance."
Byrd’s assessment is probably pretty accurate. The Mets have few outfield options to choose from and if Byrd can’t land a spot there, it is difficult to see what other options might be open to him at the major league level. The Mets have Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter, Collin Cowgill and utility man Jordany Valdespin on the outfield depth chart right now and several other non-roster invitees in camp, but only Baxter and Nieuwenhuis can reasonably be expected to play center and Byrd may be a defensive upgrade over both. The Mets outfield is not offensively gifted either. Only Duda and Baxter, who made just 211 plate appearances, were above average hitters last season (by wRC+).
Byrd has struggled badly since 2011, when Alfredo Aceves hit him in the face with a fastball in late May. He returned in July, but slumped to a .276/.324/.395 line for the year after hitting .344/.408/.516 in May. 2012 was a disaster for him. He slumped badly to start the year and was dealt from Cubs to the Red Sox on April 21 after
Manager Terry Collins is impressed with Bryd so far, Puma relates. "From what I’m seeing so far he can still play," Collins said. The right-hand hitting Byrd could beat out Collin Cowgill to match up with Mike Baxter in a right field platoon or stick on as the team’s fifth outfielder, giving Collins an extra righty bat off the bench and a player who can spell the young Nieuwenhuis in center, Duda in left and Baxter in right.