The Cubs had been shopping Marlon Byrd long before his 3-for-43 start to the season. Talks accelerated once Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury went down with a shoulder injury.
The Cubs finalized the deal on Saturday, trading Byrd and cash to Boston for right-hander Michael Bowden and a pitcher to be named later. The Cubs will pay the majority of the roughly 5.9 million remaining on the final year of Byrds contract.
The slow start didnt play any part at all, general manager Jed Hoyer said on a conference call. We had talked about some deals at the end of spring training and our feeling was weve been trying to acquire relief pitching, really, since the end of the winter.
We felt like an area where we have some surplus and some young players we want to play is the outfield.
The Cubs have options in center Joe Mather, Reed Johnson, Tony Campana until top prospect Brett Jackson shows enough at Triple-A Iowa to earn a promotion.
Bretts a big part of our future, Hoyer said, but I wouldnt read into anything with this deal as far as when we might bring him up.
The three former Red Sox executives now running the Cubs Hoyer, Theo Epstein and Jason McLeod know all about Bowden, the 47th overall pick in the 2005 draft out of Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora.
Bowden will report to Wrigley Field, likely on Monday, and take a spot in the Cubs bullpen, where there is definitely opportunity. The 25-year-old was designated for assignment on April 15 and has a 5.61 ERA in 39 career major-league games.
There is potential upside. Bowden spent most of last season as the closer at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he went 3-3 with 16 saves and a 2.73 ERA. He finished with 61 strikeouts against only 18 walks in 52.2 innings.
Hoyer said the Cubs have a list of pitchers from the Red Sox organization, and will select the player to be named later by the middle of May.
Byrd returns to Fenway Park, where last May he collapsed after a fastball from Alfredo Aceves fractured his face. An All-Star in 2010, he missed six weeks last season and wound up hitting .276 with 35 RBI in 119 games.
Byrd played with maximum effort, but could also be a strong, difficult personality. The 34-year-old outfielder who was hitting .070 will have something to prove in his walk year.
Youre on a big stage in Chicago, and he knows hes going to be on a big stage in Boston, Hoyer said. Hes been in a little bit of a funk here and sort of having the batting average reset (in) the American League (could) be a real good thing for him.
Id be surprised if he didnt go over there and help them. Right now, theyre in a position where theyre a little bit thin in the outfield and theyre going to be welcoming him with open arms.