– Baseball : Braves make trade for Ortiz, sign Byrd

The Sporting News reports — nobody else has it yet — that the Braves have signed Paul Byrd to a two-year, $10 million contract. Assuming this is true, I don’t get this one unless Jason Marquis is about to be traded. It’s widely expected that Greg Maddux will accept the Braves’ arbitration offer on Thursday, in which case the team would find itself with six starters.

Byrd, of course, was with the Braves in 1997-98. The Braves, in one of the most shortsighted and inexplicable moves they or any other organization made in recent years, waived him so they could add Norm Charlton to the 40-man roster. He was rapidly picked up by the Phillies and was a league-average starter for them in 1999 (actually, he was very good and made the All-Star team in the first half, then faded) before having some injuries. In 2001 he was traded to the Royals, where he’s pitched very well for some very bad teams, winning 17 games last year.

Byrd wanted to return to the Braves. The Phillies made a far more lucrative offer — one more year and twice the total money — but he turned them down. It’s nice to be wanted, and at that money he should be an asset.