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D-backs avoid arbitration with Byrnes02/06/2007 8:04 PM ET
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- The D-backs avoided a salary arbitration hearing with outfielder Eric Byrnes on Tuesday when the two sides reached agreement on a one-year, $4.575 million contract.
"I'm happy it's done," Byrnes said. "Now it's time to turn the focus on the field and playing well and helping us win. I'm excited about the team we've got. We've got a good pitching staff and a lot of good young position players. I'm just looking forward to Spring Training."
Byrnes, who hit .267 and led the team in home runs with 26, had been seeking $5 million through arbitration, while the D-backs had countered with $4.25 million. An arbitration hearing had been scheduled for Feb. 15.
The two sides briefly talked about a multiyear contract after the season, but weren't able to make that work. Byrnes, who has always had to play with one-year deals, no doubt was looking for some security and to capitalize on an exploding market that saw outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. sign a five-year, $50 million contract with the Angels.
The D-backs appear to be hesitant to commit a lot of money or years towards Byrnes with a talented group of young outfielders like Justin Upton, Carlos Gonzalez and Mark Reynolds rising through the system, not to mention the presence of Scott Hairston.
"We talked about [a multiyear deal] and it just seemed like our respective positions weren't going to match up on that one," Arizona GM Josh Byrnes (no relation) said.
Eric Byrnes was the final arbitration-eligible player to reach an agreement with the D-backs, and he and agent Michael Sasson both credited Arizona for its patience.
"I'm happiest for my agent and for the D-backs because I know it's been a headache for both of them," Byrnes said. "The D-backs have shown a lot of patience during this process."
Eric Byrnes will be a free agent for the first time in his career after the season.
"Our door will be open," Sasson said. "If the D-backs want to talk during the year, we'll certainly listen. Eric loves Arizona and would like to be there."
The D-backs, though, seem content to let the year play out and then decide.
"Never say never," Josh Byrnes said. "I think we're probably going to use the year to sort of help us clarify who the best guys are. There's no reason to shut the door. Sometimes, you get to the point where there are enough scenarios to consider that flexibility and waiting are the best course of action, and that's the case here."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.