Byrd deal part of Cubs' youth movement

The deal that sent Marlon Byrd to the Red Sox for Michael Bowden and a player to be named later on Saturday is first stage of the Cubs’ overall plan to get younger -- and more athletic -- moving forward.

General manager Jed Hoyer said Saturday that the discussions about dealing Byrd had been on-going for months. Numerous clubs -- including the Nationals, Braves and Red Sox -- had inquired about the veteran outfielder. Boston hopped into the talks at the end of spring training. Conversations became more intense when Boston lost Carl Crawford and later Jacoby Ellsbury to injuries.

The Cubs, according to a major league source, will pay off a significant amount of Byrd’s $6.5 million 2012 salary.

Bowden a native of Aurora, Ill., was drafted by the current Cub front office when president Theo Epstein and Hoyer worked as a unit in Boston in 2005. Bowden will work out of the bullpen when he joins the team on Monday. The Cubs have also been given a list of young pitchers by the Red Sox that they will scout. At some point in May, they will choose one pitcher to complete the trade.

Although this move, in essence, starts the process of moving out a veteran to make room for the star players in the organization’s minor league system, don’t look for Brett Jackson to be on the North Side too soon. (I touched on this topic earlier on Saturday.)

“He is playing hard in the minor leagues,” Hoyer said of Jackson. “This is still early in his Triple-A career, and he still has work to do.”

Hoyer didn’t say that Jackson would spend the entire season at Iowa. Baring injuries on the major league roster, however, it’s safe to assume the 23-year-old outfielder will stay in the minors until the All-Star Break.

Look for the new front office to keep moving veterans throughout the 2012 campaign as the names and numbers continue to change at Clark and Addison.