Byrnes signs three-year, $30 million deal with D-backs

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks and popular outfielder
Eric Byrnes agreed Tuesday to a $30 million, three-year contract
extension through 2010.

The deal comes after talks broke down last month and it appeared
Byrnes, who is having the best season of his career, would leave as
a free agent.

Byrnes, the ever-hustling team leader, is batting .303 with 17
homers, 64 RBIs, 21 doubles and 28 steals. He is seventh in the NL
in hits with 135 and fifth in the league in triples with seven on a
young team that has a surprising lead in the NL West.

"I don't think we could have signed a better guy to represent
this team and this organization than Eric Byrnes," manager Bob
Melvin said. "First and foremost, what he does out on the field.
He leaves it out there every inning of every game. With the group
of young guys coming up, this is the perfect example to have for
these guys to learn from."

Byrnes, who is making $4,575,000 this year, gets a $2 million
signing bonus payable in two installments next year. He receives
salaries of $6 million next season and $11 million each in 2009 and

The 31-year-old came to Arizona as a free agent in 2006 after
what been a mostly unspectacular career that included stints with
three teams in 2005 -- Oakland, Colorado and Baltimore. He hit .267
with the Diamondbacks last year but had career highs in home runs
(26), RBIs (79) and stolen bases (25).

"The past two years have been the most fun that I've ever had
playing baseball," Byrnes said at a news conference announcing the

He was a .261 career hitting going in to this season.

"I've always felt that all I needed was an opportunity,"
Byrnes said.

After the talks broke down, Byrnes said, he believed he would
play out the season and become a free agent. That changed nine days
earlier, when Diamondbacks chief executive officer Jeff Moorad
called Byrnes into his office to offer a new proposal.

"I was shocked," Byrnes said.

General manager Josh Byrnes said the contract "demonstrably
shows that we view him as a key, key part of this organization, a
leader with this organization."

Byrnes said he is donating $250,000 to the Pat Tillman
Foundation. He grew up in the same area as Tillman and organized
"Team Tillman" among the Diamondbacks, a mechanism that donates
money based on the players' performance.

With Byrnes remaining in left field, the days could be numbered
for young Carlos Quentin in the Arizona organization. Rookies
Chris Young and Justin Upton are in center and right field, respectively,
and Quentin has struggled mightily this season.

Quentin, on the 15-day disabled list, is hitting .208 in 71
games with Arizona.

Byrnes has become a fan favorite because of his offbeat,
outgoing California surfer personality and full-tilt play on the
field, which results in a constantly dirty uniform and, when he
takes of his cap, a disheveled mess of blond hair.

"He is a mite entertaining," Melvin said, "and I think that
might go a long way in this day and age. He looks like he's having
fun out there at all times, and you don't see that very often."

At the All-Star game in San Francisco, he and his bulldog were
in a boat in McCovey Cove, and during the national telecast, he
gave a play-by-play of his dog jumping into the water and swimming
away. The animal had to be retrieved by a nearby boater.

He said he has two other bulldogs that won't go near the water.