Eric Byrnes said all along that he wanted to stay with the Diamondbacks, and his new $30 million contract ensures it.
Byrnes’ contract extension announced Tuesday includes a full no-trade clause, the final sticking point in a negotiation but a hurdle the D-Backs were willing to clear to make sure that their top run producer remains on the field while their younger players mature.
“Winning is the best thing we can do, and Eric helps us do that,” general manager Josh Byrnes said.
“We have a guy who obviously impacts the game in a lot of ways — with the bat, the glove and what he can do on the bases. Plus how he impacts a team. He’s one of the best examples of leadership.
“This dramatically shows we want him to be a key, key part of this organization.”
Byrnes, 31, will get a $2 million signing bonus and salaries of $6 million in 2008, $11 million in 2009 and $11 million in 2010.
He was hitting .303 with 17 home runs, 64 RBIs and a career-high 28 stolen bases entering Tuesday’s game, in his second consecutive career year with the D-Backs after being signed as a free agent in January, 2006.
The deal also appears to solidify the outfield in the immediate future with Byrnes in left field, Chris Young in center and Justin Upton in right.
“'Byrnsie’ is an energy-bringer,” Young said. “He’s a great player to have on a team. He’s great for the younger guys.
“You can learn a lot watching him play. He goes out and puts it on the line every day.”
The contract was hammered into place 10 days ago, when D-Backs partner Jeff Moorad called Eric Byrnes into his office after the D-Backs lost to Atlanta, 14-0, on July 29. Also present were Josh Byrnes and Michael Sasson, Eric Byrnes’ long-time friend and agent.
That meeting came 10 days after Eric Byrnes told the media in Milwaukee that negotiations that had begun during the All-Star break had broken down. He was seeking a five-year, $50 million deal while the D-Backs offered a three-year, $22.5 million contract.
“I was stunned. I didn’t think anything would happen,” Eric Byrnes said. “After Milwaukee, I really thought that I was going to play the rest of the season out and was going to end up in a different uniform” in 2008.
Both sides ended up compromising on the final package, with Byrnes choosing not to test the winter free agent market.
“A three-year deal is probably the right amount of years for both of us,” Eric Byrnes said. “Three years is a good number to see what this group can do. This is an exciting young team, and I want to be a part of it.”
With Upton having nothing left to prove at the minor league level after being recalled Thursday, the D-Backs are likely to attempt to trade top right field prospects Carlos Quentin and Carlos Gonzalez this winter, perhaps in a package for starting pitching.
Gonzalez was a large chip in trade talks prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, while Quentin was also shopped, although less extensively.
Byrnes could have entered a free agent market expected to include Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter and Mike Cameron this winter, and was asked if he felt he might be leaving money on the table.
“If I blow it ($30 million), I’m an idiot anyway,” Byrnes said.
Byrnes said he will donate $250,000 to the Pat Tillman Foundation, with which he became involved through friend Zack Walz, a teammate of Tillman’s with the Arizona Cardinals.