Mets lock up left-hander Tim Byrdak for 2012

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The Mets sent Carlos Beltran to the Giants in July, but they were surprisingly unwilling to deal any of their lesser free-agents-to-be, a group that included Chris Capuano, Scott Hairston, Willie Harris, Jason Isringhausen and Tim Byrdak.  Today they retained the least expensive member of that bunch for 2012, signing the 37-year-old Byrdak to a one-year extension.

Byrdak, who signed a minor league deal in January after being let go by the Astros two months earlier, has a 2.95 ERA in 68 appearances this season.  A true specialist, he’s thrown only 36 2/3 innings.  Lefties, though, have his just .202 against him, and he has a 1.50 ERA in 24 innings since June 1.

The value of the deal wasn’t announced, but it’s safe to say it’s somewhere in the $1.2 million-$1.5 million range.  Byrdak made $1.6 million last year with Houston, and he’s earned $900,000 with the Mets this season.

Royals to sign Billy Hamilton

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LAS VEGAS — Jim Bowden reports that the Kansas City Royals are close to agreement with outfielder Billy Hamilton. He says they are “just working through bonuses and pending physical.” Hamilton was non-tendered by the Cincinnati Reds a couple of weeks ago following six seasons with the club, making him a free agent.

Hamilton is one of the fastest men to ever play the game, but he has never come around as a hitter. In his six seasons with the Reds he put up a line of .245/.298/.333 (OPS+ 70). While he has stolen 277 bases over that period, getting caught 63 times, he has never once led the league in steals, primarily because he just doesn’t get on base enough. He is an excellent center fielder, but the bat is so sub-par that even the glove and the wheels are not good enough to justify going to arbitration with him.

Perhaps a change of scenery will do him good. He will certainly bring some excitement to Kansas City. He’s a fun guy to watch play.