Because the Phillies still need at least one starting pitcher, and at least one veteran reliever, and a starting catcher, and perhaps some help in centerfield as well as some insurance at third base, and because they already have well over $100 million committed to players like Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, the club knew that it was going to need to take a certain amount of risk to have a shot at making it all work.
Byrd, coming off a huge campaign after 3 years of declining numbers that left him without a major league job, is one of those risks. He hit .291 with a career-high 24 homers with the Mets and Pirates last season. The one-time hit prospect whom the Phillies traded to the Nationals in 2005 said he was surprised by the interest from his old club. In fact, it was the only offer he needed to hear.
"It happened so quickly," Byrd said. "There really wasn't a chance for any other clubs to get involved . . . They were very aggressive."
That has been Amaro's modus operandi throughout his tenure as general manager. Whether it proves beneficial this time around will depend in part on the size of contracts that are landed by players like Mike Morse, Corey Hart and Nelson Cruz, as well as on Byrd's ability to follow up on a career year. The affable outfielder said it still hasn't sunk in that he is returning to play with teammates like Howard, Utley and Rollins.
Asked for a word to describe his current state of mind, Byrd quickly seized on one.
"Exuberance," he said.
The numbers suggest that there is at least one logical explanation for his power surge: He is hitting a lot more balls in the air, which translates into a lot more chances for home runs. Indeed, Byrd says he spent all of last offseason working at a batting cage near his home in an attempt to change the mechanics of his swing so that he generated more loft on the ball.
His age, as well as a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs in 2012, offer plenty of fodder for skeptics.
On Twitter: @ByDavidMurphy