The Bucs would have liked to keep Byrd as a bridge to Gregory Polanco, but weren't going to commit two years to him. And RF was never quite as pressing a need as some other spots. In the last month of 2013 (per Baseball Reference), Byrd went .309/.345/.444 with a .789 OPS and 2 HR, 10 RBI and 10 RS in 87 AB. Over the same span, Jose Tabata went .308/.348/.508 with an .856 OPS, 2 HR, 10 RBI and 7 RS in 70 AB. With Andrew Lambo due a look, the Bucs should be able to keep RF warm for Polanco without leaving the house.
As far as AJ is concerned, the longer he goes without a deal, the likelier it seems to us that he won't be returning to Pittsburgh. The FO doesn't want to blow a hole in the budget by offering him what seems a fair enough $14M; perhaps they're looking for a home-town discount or maybe the relationship has frayed at both ends.
At any rate, it should leave them enough money to bring in either James Loney (who would platoon with Gaby Sanchez) or Corey Hart to fill in at first base.
The three pitchers most often cited in the Bucco sights are Josh Johnson, Dan Haren and Bartolo Colon. They'll have enough to ink one of them, or whomever else strikes their sabermetric fancy, and may have the luxury of mid-season cavalry arriving in the arm of Jameson Taillon.
One last thing; we don't expect them to sign a FA shortstop, but we'd certainly not be surprised if they swung a deal for one. Several organizations are jammed up at the spot, though many others, including the Cards, are trawling the waters just like Pittsburgh, making for a competitive market. The Pirate system does have some pitching to offer, and guys like Jed Lowrey, Alexi Ramirez, Elvis Andrus and Asdrubal Cabrera are available to one degree or another.
- Jay Bell was hired as the bench coach of the Cincinnati Reds by Bryan Price, the Reds' new manager, who Bell had worked with in the Arizona organization. Congrats to Jay; it's a nice upward move on the road to becoming a manager one day.
- Neal Huntington lost the Sporting News MLB Exec of the Year award to Ben Cherington of Boston, whose worst-to-first reversal with the Red Sox outpolled Huntington's FA magic.