February 7, 2007
Going into this week the Arizona Diamondbacks had only one player eligible for salary arbitration that was not signed. The player was newly anointed left fielder Eric Byrnes. Byrnes came to the Diamondbacks last season after brief stints in Colorado and Baltimore. Many said the Diamondbacks were taking a risk as Byrnes stock was definitely on the slide. General Manager Josh Byrnes thought the risk was worth it and offered a one year contract to Eric. The Diamondbacks were rewarded with consistent hitting, highlight reel fielding, and a fiery attitude that was infectious in the clubhouse. Eric Byrnes was clearly the best and most consistent player on the Diamondbacks last season. He filled the gap in centerfield and provided needed experience around an ever increasing younger team. With the departure of Luis Gonzalez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the promotion of Chris Young from Tucson to Arizona to play centerfield, Eric Byrnes was asked to move to left. His attitude was very team focused as he agreed to play whatever position would best help. With such a positive influence both on and off the field, many wondered whether the Diamondbacks would sign Byrnes to a long term deal. Eric himself has commented this off-season that he would like to become a permanent fixture in Arizona. But with arbitration looming on the horizon, the Diamondbacks just could not seem to come to an agreement on contract parameters. When arbitration figures were announced, Byrnes was asking for just over $5 million for the 2007 season while the Diamondbacks offered $4.25 million. With such a relatively small difference in numbers, it was assumed that the sides would come to an agreement. That hadn’t happened though, at least not until today.