The latest move in the Phillies' rebuilding effort came Wednesday, injecting another young arm into the minor-league system and ensuring that a younger outfield takes the field this spring.
Twelve days after acquiring a pair of young arms for Jimmy Rollins, the franchise's all-time hits leader, the Phillies shipped veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd and cash considerations to the Cincinnati Reds for righthanded pitching prospect Ben Lively.
Lively, 22, projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter. A fourth-round draft pick in 2013, he was recently named the Reds' minor-league player of the year. Baseball America ranked him as the Reds' 12th-best prospect.
The trade means the Phillies will once again feature a different look in the outfield this season. Domonic Brown may shift back to right field, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said, a switch that would leave several possibilities for left: Grady Sizemore, Darin Ruf or recent Rule 5 selection Odubel Herrera among them. The Phillies haven't ruled out moving third baseman Cody Asche to left field, Amaro said, but the GM added that "right now he's our third baseman, and I expect him to be our third baseman."
Nonroster invitee Jeff Francoeur will compete for a roster spot. Big springs also could propel Aaron Altherr, who excelled in winter ball, and Kelly Dugan into the outfield equation.
Amaro said after talking with Brown that he thinks the 27-year-old would be comfortable with a move back to his natural position.
"It's something I have to discuss with [manager Ryne Sandberg]," Amaro said, "but it's certainly a possibility."
In three weeks between the trades of Jimmy Rollins, Byrd and Antonio Bastardo, the Phillies have added four starting pitchers 23 years old or younger. Righthander Zach Eflin and lefthander Tom Windle were the returns in the Rollins deal with the Dodgers, and they also acquired Joely Rodriguez from the Pirates for Bastardo.
Lively, listed at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, will likely start his Phillies tenure in double-A Reading. The Central Florida product was 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA in 26 starts last season between single-A Bakersfield and double-A Pensacola. He made 13 starts for each team, and a 10-1 record and 2.28 ERA in single A earned him a June promotion.
The Phillies paid a portion of Byrd's $8 million salary for 2015 to consummate the trade. Neither club disclosed the amount, though Amaro noted it was "significant." Byrd, who will turn 38 late in the season, has a 2016 option for another $8 million that vests with 550 plate appearances.
The Reds, who sought an everyday leftfielder, are Byrd's eighth major-league team. He hit .264 with 25 home runs, 28 doubles, 85 RBIs and a .757 OPS in 154 games last season, his second stint with Philadelphia, though his career-high 185 strikeouts were bested only by teammate Ryan Howard, who led the majors with 190.
"As far as the arms are concerned, we've just been doing our best to shore up something that's been lacking for us and that's starting pitching depth," Amaro said. "We've acquired four guys that we think will help us in the upper levels in double A and triple A."