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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Byrd flys to Cleveland for second time

CLEVELAND – Paul Byrd didn’t fully appreciate the significance of rejoining the Indians until his homecoming was official.

“I read on the Internet where it said ‘He was drafted by Cleveland and will finally get a chance to play for the Indians,'” the free agent said. “I got chills when I read it because I really hadn’t thought of that.”

Byrd turned down more money and more years elsewhere to sign a two-year, $14.25 million contract yesterday with the Indians, the club’s first move in what could be a busy few days at the winter meetings in Dallas.

Byrd will make $7 million in 2006 and 2007, and the deal includes a club option for 2008 that could raise the value to $22 million over three seasons.

The 35-year-old Byrd went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA in 31 starts for the Los Angeles Angels last season. He rejected a new deal with the Angels and offers from Baltimore, Kansas City and Texas to rejoin the Indians, who drafted him in 1991.

“I left a lot of guaranteed money on the table,” Byrd said. “But my family said, ‘How much money is enough?’ They are paying me a lot in Cleveland. I want to win and that was more important than the larger contract in Kansas City.”

The right-hander plugs one offseason hole for the Indians, who won 93 games and were in the chase for a spot in the AL playoffs before a 1-6 collapse in the final week. Byrd joins a rotation that includes C.C. Sabathia (15-10), Cliff Lee (18-5) and Jake Westbrook (15-15), but still needs another starter.

“It doesn’t matter what spot I pitch in,” Byrd said. “I can help at the top or in the middle. I’m not an ego guy. What does matter is getting the ball with a chance to win. You’ve got that in Cleveland.”

General manager Mark Shapiro said, “We are excited to add an experienced starting pitcher to our rotation, one that represents the team we are trying to build both on and off the field.”

Cleveland may still re-sign free agent Kevin Millwood or Scott Elarton. Millwood, though, is seeking a four- or five-year deal, and agent Scott Boras is expected to meet with a dozen or more suitors this week.

Byrd spoke with Millwood before finalizing his deal.

“I talked to Kevin and he had nothing but great things to say about Cleveland,” Byrd said. “I think Kevin is going to take his time and wait until the end. I don’t think the Indians are able to give him what he wants, which is five years, so I felt comfortable talking with him.”

The Indians have already lost set-up man Bobby Howry, who signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Chicago Cubs. But a bigger priority is a closer, and the Indians appear to be targeting Trevor Hoffman, who has been offered a two-year deal to stay with the San Diego Padres.

Shapiro and manager Eric Wedge met with Hoffman at his home in Del Mar, Calif., over the weekend.

Also, the Indians have expressed interest in signing free agent Nomar Garciaparra. The club has discussed using Garciaparra as a utility player.

Byrd and Shapiro broke in with the Indians at roughly the same time, and have remained friends since the early 1990s. Cleveland selected Byrd in the fourth round in 1991, and he spent four seasons in the club’s minor league system before being traded to the New York Mets in 1995.

“Mark sent me down in ’94 and I had to harass him a little about that,” Byrd said.

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