As the season approached, only two teams had shown any interest in taking a shot on Marlon Byrd: the New York Mets and the Cleveland Indians.
Then, according to people familiar with the process, the Indians shifted their attention toward a move that would provide a decisive upgrade in the outfield: beating out the Mets in the Michael Bourn sweepstakes.
That left the Mets with the consolation prize of signing Byrd to a minor league deal.
Yet, as the trade deadline approaches, the Mets have gotten more production out of Byrd than the Indians have from Bourn.
Entering play on Sunday, Bourn posted a .290/.332/.367 line with 2 homers and 21 RBIs in 70 games. By contrast, Byrd has posted a .274/.319/.509 line with 16 homers and 55 RBIs in 81 games.
Bourn, in the first season of a four-year, $48 million deal with the Indians, has a been a 1.5 win player. Byrd, who is making $700,000, has been worth 2.1 wins above replacement and has emerged as possible trade chip at the deadline.
When the Mets rolled the dice on the 35-year-old Byrd, they expected a solid platoon partner. Instead, they have enjoyed a steady cleanup hitter to position behind David Wright after watching both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda struggle with underperformance and injury.
"I didn't think that was going to happen," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "With the fact that Ike's been struggling and Lucas has struggled in that fourth spot, he has really picked up the load."