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Archive for Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Royals lose another player

December 18, 2002

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— Paul Byrd, who managed to win 17 games for a Kansas City Royals team that lost 100 in 2002, is the latest good player to escape Kauffman Stadium.

Byrd signed a two-year, $10 million deal with Atlanta on Tuesday, a move that's certain to further demoralize long-suffering Royals fans.

Byrd was 17-11 last season with a 3.90 ERA for Kansas City.

In the past five years, the Royals have failed to hold on to what might have been the core of a competitive team. Outfielder and leadoff hitter Johnny Damon was traded to Oakland after it became clear he and his agent, Scott Boras, had no intention of staying in Kansas City.

Outfielder Jermaine Dye, who had shown both power and outstanding defense, was then shipped to the A's in a three-way trade that netted Colorado shortstop Neifi Perez in return.

The Royals obtained Perez after they were unable to resign free agent shortstop Rey Sanchez, who wound up with Boston.

Perez, whose .260 on-base percentage in 2002 was the worst of any regular player in the American League, was released at the end of the season.

Kansas City is not expected to retain third baseman Joe Randa this offseason.

Center fielder Carlos Beltran is now eligible for arbitration. He and his agent, Boras, have indicated that in exchange for a long-range agreement, they will need approximately $50 million more than the $96 million Royals owner David Glass paid for the entire franchise two years ago.

The Royals managed to keep their best player, first baseman Mike Sweeney, who signed a five-year, $55 million contract extension last March with an unusual condition that may come back to haunt the small-market, cash-strapped club.

If the Royals fail to reach .500 in either 2003 or 2004, Sweeney can opt-out of the final three years of the contract and become a free agent.

A Royals spokesman said Tuesday that general manager Allard Baird would not be available to comment until today.

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