Byrd's agreement with Indians worth $14.25 million

CLEVELAND -- Free-agent right-hander Paul Byrd and the Indians reached agreement Sunday on a two-year contract worth $14.25 million, helping Cleveland fill one of its biggest needs on the eve of the winter meetings.

Byrd, who went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA in 31 starts for the Los Angeles Angels last season, was trying to finalize the deal with the Indians, The Associated Press reported Sunday night. A person familiar with the talks told the AP that there were a few outstanding issues remaining but that a deal could be struck later Monday.

The Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore and Texas also sought Byrd. His deal with the Indians would include an option that could raise the value to $22 million over three seasons.

Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro was to arrive Sunday
night in Dallas for the winter meetings. He had been in California
meeting with San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman, another of the
Indians' offseason targets.

Byrd, who turned 35 on Saturday, would be returning to the
organization where he got his pro start. He was drafted by the
Indians in 1991 and spent four seasons pitching in the club's minor
league system before being traded to the New York Mets in 1995.

Byrd has been an effective major league pitcher, but not always
a durable one.

He won 15 games for Philadelphia in 1999 and had a career-high
17 victories for Kansas City in 2002, but Byrd missed the entire
2003 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He went 8-7 for
Atlanta in 2004.

Byrd is protection if the Indians are not able to re-sign
free agents Kevin Millwood or Scott Elarton. Millwood, who led the
AL in ERA last season, would like to return to Cleveland, but his
agent, Scott Boras, is seeking a four- or five-year deal.

The Indians appreciated all Millwood did for them in his first
season in Cleveland, mentoring the club's young pitchers and
performing at an All-Star level despite a lack of run support.
However, he may have become too rich for their payroll, which is
expected to jump from $42 million to $55 million next season.

Byrd, who made $4.5 million last season, fits nicely into the
fourth spot of an Indians rotation behind C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee
and Jake Westbrook.

The 38-year-old Hoffman may be the Indians' best hope of landing
a dependable relief pitcher. A high-priced market for closers has forced
the club to sit by and watch so far during free agency.

Hoffman is the best closer still available, but the Indians
could still re-sign Bob Wickman, who saved 45 games for them last

"Bob is an option," Shapiro said on Friday. "We know he wants
to pitch next year."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.