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Official: Diamondbacks to release outfielder Eric Byrnes

So there it is. The press release just came through:

The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to terms with infielder Adam LaRoche on a one-year contract for 2010, with a mutual option for 2011, as announced by D-backs Executive Vice President and General Manager Josh Byrnes... In a corresponding move, the D-backs designated outfielder Eric Byrnes for assignment.

It's not much of a surprise, but it's finally in stone. To make room for the newly acquired Adam LaRoche, the Diamondbacks will release the high-flying, struggling, and well-paid "Pigpen" of the outfield, Eric Byrnes. Since the signing happened, speculation had been rife around the state of Arizona sports that that this was to be the case. Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro reported it on Twitter, Steve Gilbert also Tweeted that it was his best guess, and 3TV's Brad Cesmat heard Byrnes was to be released from multiple unnamed sources in the Diamondbacks' front office.

Once LaRoche's deal was finalized, the Diamondbacks had only 24 hours to make a spot for him on the 40-man roster, and it appears they wasted no time, optiung to do so by finally cutting bait on our once-loved, now-loathed outfielder. Eric Byrnes is owed $11 million next season, the last year in a 3-year, $30 million extension he signed in August 2007. By releasing him outright, the Diamondbacks will eat all of that money. The Diamondbacks tried to trade Eric or other players (see failed Chris Snyder trade earlier this off-season) to remove some salary from the books, but nobody took the bait.

Dancing in the street scheduled for 3...2....1.......


Eric first signed as a free agent with the Diamondbacks in the 2005-2006 offseason. He played well in 2006 and 2007, but his production dropped off considerably the last two years. He struggled with a hamstring injury in 2008 and a broken hand in 2009. Eric's final numbers in an Arizona uniform are .261 AVG/.317 OPS/.446 SLG/.764 OPS, with 61 home runs and 88 stolen bases (including 50 in 2007, when he was a large part of the Dbacks' post-season run).

Love him or hate him, he certainly provided excitement during his time in Arizona, both on the field and off. Post-game interviews and deep fly balls to the wall won't be the same without him!

[Jim] How the mighty are fallen. The Byrnes contract was extended in August 2007, and here's some snippets from what we wrote at that time:

Put me on those who are mildly pessimistic about this one. It seems to leave the team with nowhere to play Carlos Quentin... I'm pleased it's not a five-year deal... The key question, however, is which Eric Byrnes do we get for the next three seasons? The one who posted OPS+ of 95 and 75 the past two seasons? Or the one this year, at a career-high tying level of 118?... I really hope this organization knows what it's doing. However, we probably won't know the answer to that for another year or so, at least. Best-case scenario: Byrnes continues to hit, Carlos Quentin returns to form, and we trade the last couple of years of the Byrnes contract to the Cubs for Carlos Zambrano. :-) Worst case? Eugh. Let's not go there.

I think it's same to say that we just did go there... In January that year - before Byrnes' extension was more than a gleam in Jeff Moorad's eye - I wrote a piece on the worst deals in Diamondbacks history. Here's the list as it stood at that point: I think the time is ripe for an update. While I work on that, please pause for a moment, and s consider where about the Erictastic contract should be placed in the rankings.

  1. Russ Ortiz: 4 years, $33m.
  2. Richie Sexson: 1 year, $8.7m.
  3. Todd Stottlemyre: 4 years, $32m.
  4. Matt Mantei: 4 years, $22m.
  5. Bernard Gilkey: 2 years, $10.5m.
  6. Travis Lee: 4 years, $10m.
  7. Jason Grimsley: 1 year, $825K.
  8. Shawn Green: 3 years, $20m.
  9. Luis Gonzalez: 3 years, $30m.
  10. Matt Williams: 5 years, $45m.