UPDATE: Byrnes has been designated for assignment.
10:00 A.M.: The Diamondbacks need to make room on the roster for Adam LaRoche, and according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, they’re most likely going to do it by releasing Eric Byrnes.
Byrnes’ deal has to be one of the more spectacular contract disasters in recent history. Signed towards the end of the 2007season, it was a three-year, $30 million deal with a no-trade clause.
And it’s not just a disaster because he’s been injured for the majority of its duration. It even made no sense at the time. Byrnes was in the midst of perhaps his “greatest” season when he signed it, but even then he was only hitting .286/.353./460. His OPS+ that year revealed him to be a slightly above average hitter overall, but of course he plays left field, and that’s a position that typically calls for more than a slightly above average bat.
Maybe it’s just a holdover from those dark days at the law firm when I used to fantasize about winning the lottery and stuff, but I’ve always had a place in my heart for guys like Byrnes and Darren Driefort and the like who were paid gigantic sums and produced almost nothing thereafter. It almost makes you think “hey, I could have done that.”
Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.
The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.