With team or not, Byrd a key to Phillies' future

Right fielder will either be in lineup or be dealt to build organizational depth

With team or not, Byrd a key to Phillies' future

PHILADELPHIA -- General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and manager Ryne Sandberg both believe a winning team begins with quality starting pitching and defense.

But they know the Phillies need much more than that. They ranked ninth in the National League in runs, 11th in on-base percentage and 13th in slugging percentage on their way to a 73-89 record and their first last-place finish in the NL East since 2000.

They must improve their offense, and the outfield is one place they will look to do so.

Phillies right fielder Marlon Byrd could be dealt, but not because he proved unproductive. He hit .264 with 28 doubles, two triples, a team-high 25 home runs and 85 RBIs. His team-leading .757 OPS was head and shoulders above Phillies outfielders Ben Revere (.686) and Domonic Brown (.634).

Byrd, 37, could be traded because he figures to have value for a contending team looking to fill a void. But the Phillies tried that in July and came up empty.

Byrd's contract might have played a role. He will make $8 million next season, which is reasonable, but he also has an $8 million club option for 2016 that automatically vests based on plate appearances.

Byrd needs 550 plate appearances next season to vest it, and he had 637 this season.

"I don't wonder about being traded," Byrd said on the final day of the season. "I've been traded plenty of times. I know how to handle it. It is what it is. If it makes the organization better, of course they'll trade me."

If Byrd is back, he knows he needs to improve on a few things. He set a career high in home runs, but also in strikeouts with 185. He hit .214 with no home runs and a .534 OPS after he hit his 25th homer on Aug. 30 at Citi Field.

"Personally, I've got some things to work on this offseason," Byrd said. "My average slipped. Hitting with runners in scoring position slipped. I set a career high in homers, but I hit zero in September. That means my mechanics broke down.

"My strikeouts were ridiculous. I had 24 homers last season and 144 strikeouts. Fifty more strikeouts for one more home run? That just doesn't make any sense. I'm not a guy that strikes out that much. It's a mechanical breakdown. Beginning in November, I'll work to figure it out. I've got a lot of work to do."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.