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Old 12-06-2002, 03:23 AM  
keg in kc keg in kc is offline
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Byrd says Royals need to boost offer

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Byrd says Royals need to boost offer

By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Posted on Fri, Dec. 06, 2002

It doesn't appear the Royals will sign free-agent pitcher Paul Byrd unless they sweeten an offer believed to be valued at less than $4 million a season over two years.

Byrd said he already has at least one better offer from what he and his family consider an attractive locale but declined to be more specific.

"Kansas City still has a chance to present another offer," said Byrd, who made $2.2 million last season by triggering numerous bonus clauses on an $850,000 base contract.

"And they might. They're not out of the picture. All things considered, Kansas City is very much in the picture.

"I'm looking for a multiyear deal, but I'm looking for a multiyear deal in the right city for my family -- a place where my wife would want to go. That's the biggest lure that Kansas City has for me -- the atmosphere it presents for my family."

Negotiations between the Royals and Byrd are picking up as Saturday's deadline nears for the club to decide whether to offer arbitration.

"There have been teams that are interested in me," Byrd said, "but I'm still interested in coming back to the Royals. That hasn't changed."

"We're further away (in dollars) than I would like. We have a little bit of work to do. But I understand where we are. It's not that I feel unappreciated. I know they have a budget to work with."

Royals general manager Allard Baird, under orders from owner David Glass, is operating with a payroll of roughly $37 million for next season.

"I believe we are a player in this thing," Baird said. "I don't think anything has changed in terms of our desire to keep Paul or his desire to be a Royal.

"But he's a free agent, and he's going to look and see what's out there."

Byrd, who turned 32 on Tuesday, isn't likely to accept arbitration after compiling a 17-11 record last season with a 3.90 earned-run average and a league-leading seven complete games.

The problem for Byrd is even he isn't sure what he's worth at this point. The free-agent market is typically established from the top down, but Tom Glavine didn't come to terms until Thursday night and Greg Maddux doesn't appear close to signing.

"I've heard it goes Glavine, Maddux and me," Byrd said. "That's kind of weird, although it's nice to hear. Everybody is waiting on (Glavine and Maddux)."

Before Glavine signed with the Mets for $35 million over three years, the only marker on the market was the Cardinals' decision to retain Woody Williams.

St. Louis shelled out $14 million over two years for Williams with a $900,000 buyout if it wants to void a third year at $8 million. The deal horrified the Royals and other small-market teams because Williams is 36 and appeared in just 17 games last season because of an injury.

In contrast, Byrd saw Williams' contract as "a pretty good barometer if you compared us."

What isn't generally known is Williams' contract contains enormous deferred sums. The Cardinals are only paying $3.5 million in 2003 and $4.5 million in 2004. The remaining $6.9 million will be paid in equal shares over 13 years during 2005-17.

Several teams, notably Arizona, have sizable future commitments in deferred salaries. The benefit, in theory, is the payments will be worth less in real dollars in the future.

That's not an option open to Baird because Glass is staunchly opposed to the concept.

"You need to pay your way as you go," Glass said. "A team that has a lot of deferred money going out in future years penalizes itself for what it can do in those years.

"You're mortgaging some of your future for the present. I don't think we ought to do that. It's like running up a big credit-card bill."

The Royals and Byrd are likely working with a Dec. 19 deadline because of rules concerning arbitration for a team's own free agents.

The club must offer arbitration for a one-year contract by midnight Saturday or forfeit its right to sign Byrd before May 1. The same May 1 rule applies if Byrd doesn't agree to arbitration by Dec. 19.

"It's not a matter of making the decision to offer arbitration," Baird said. "It's a matter of continuing the process to try to sign him before that. Obviously, if we don't, then we make a decision."

Asked about the likelihood of reaching a deal before Saturday's deadline, Baird said, "I don't know."

Byrd's agent, Bo McKinnis, once intended to present a proposal to the Royals after gauging his client's market value. That plan unraveled when Glavine and Maddux remained unsigned.

"I think the Royals now recognize they have to put something concrete together on their part," McKinnis said. "Who will spit the number out next? I don't know. It may be us. It may be them.

"But I've been pleased with our conversations with them, and we at least have something to talk about."

McKinnis said 11 teams have expressed interest in Byrd. Seattle, St. Louis, Arizona, Philadelphia and Texas are believed to have serious interest, but many of those teams also targeted Glavine, Maddux or Jamie Moyer.

Meanwhile, Byrd wonders whether Glavine's new deal will jump-start the market.

"I've got a little anxiety going," Byrd admitted. "I would have liked for the off-season signings to go a little faster, but a lot could change in the next week."
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Old 12-06-2002, 03:40 AM   #2
tk13 tk13 is offline
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If we lose him, Baird should be fired... Byrd's the ace, he's the best pitcher on our staff. He may not repeat what he did last year...but to just let our best pitcher from the previous year walk is moronically stupid, and Baird should have traded him if he didn't think he was going to resign him.
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Old 12-08-2002, 06:15 PM   #3
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I think (the tough SOB of a negotiator) has something to do with this
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Old 12-08-2002, 07:28 PM   #4
keg in kc keg in kc is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by tk13
If we lose him, Baird should be fired... Byrd's the ace, he's the best pitcher on our staff. He may not repeat what he did last year...but to just let our best pitcher from the previous year walk is moronically stupid, and Baird should have traded him if he didn't think he was going to resign him.
I'm no big fan of Baird, but the problem here isn't Baird, it's Glass. Glass wouldn't let him negotiate during the season and Glass is the one who's setting the $37 million salary cap for the team. What exactly is Baird supposed to do when the owner won't give him any freedom to spend?
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