Mets deal Marlon Byrd, John Buck to Pirates, then Jon Niese shuts out Phillies

Mets' Marlon Byrd kneels at the plate after

Mets' Marlon Byrd kneels at the plate after being tagged out on an inside-the-park home run attempt during the second inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (Aug. 9, 2013) (Credit: AP)

In announcing the trade of Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates for a prospect, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson on Tuesday cleared his throat and paused for emphasis.

There was something he wanted to make clear.

This move, while clearly signaling the waving of the proverbial white flag on the 2013 season, was in no way a response to the devastating news of Mets ace Matt Harvey possibly headed for Tommy John surgery.

"There's really no specific association," Alderson said. "This was more coincidental than anything else."

Another coincidence was that the hundreds of fans who bought "T-Shirt Tuesday" tickets for Tuesday night's game were given Marlon Byrd shirts.

To make up for the unfortunate timing, the Mets gave those fans an additional T-shirt of a player of their choice and tickets to a September game.

Those fans also saw a 5-0 win over the Phillies, snapping the Mets' five-game losing streak.

Jon Niese threw a three-hit shutout and also impacted the game offensively. He scored a run (ignoring a stop sign from third-base coach Tim Teufel) and drove in three with a two-out double in the sixth.

It was an upbeat end to another unusual day at Citi Field, this one featuring Alderson defending the timing of a trade on the heels of the Harvey injury.

The GM said the Mets placed Byrd on waivers Friday and the Pirates were awarded the claim Sunday, a day before Harvey had an MRI that showed a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.

"Discussions had taken place well before Matt had seen the doctor on Monday," he said.

But when the negotiations heated up and the Pirates agreed to give up 19-year-old infielder Dilson Herrera, who played in the Futures Game last month at Citi Field, Alderson said he knew he had to consider how this deal would look.

"When you juxtapose this deal with the Harvey injury, it's easy to conclude that, well, things have gone south," Alderson said. "In fact, although this deal and the Harvey injury were coincidental, the concern we had was the sense that the two of them together might send the wrong message."

But ultimately, Alderson took emotion out of the equation.

"We felt this was in our best interests," Alderson said, and that has got everything to do with Herrera's potential.

A 5-9, 182-pound native of Colombia, Herrera is hitting .265 (112-for-423) with 27 doubles, 11 home runs and 56 RBIs for Class-A West Virginia of the South Atlantic League.

Alderson said the righthanded-hitting Herrera projects as a second baseman with some power and the ability to run the bases. "He's an exciting talent, multidimensional in a sense," Alderson said.

Herrera will join Class-A Savannah for the duration of its postseason run, Alderson said.

To acquire Herrera, the Mets gave up two players who had significant impact on their season.

Byrd, signed to a minor-league contract with no guarantees before the season, made the team out of spring training and had team highs of 21 home runs, 71 RBIs and a .518 slugging percentage.

With Travis d'Arnaud in line to get the majority of the catching responsibilities, Alderson chose to package Buck with Byrd in a waiver-wire deal -- "a one-team market," he said -- to get a better prospect.

"We very definitely feel this was a better package for us than we could have obtained in July," Alderson said.

Perhaps the biggest negative from a development standpoint was that Buck had agreed to mentor d'Arnaud at the expense of his own playing time. D'Arnaud called Buck "a great guy, he was there for me."

Alderson left open the possibility of Buck returning in that role next season, pointing out that he's scheduled to be a free agent.

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