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The Paul Byrd Watch Begins

After another trip deep into the playoffs, double-windup master Paul Byrd was expected to wait until the all-star break to pick a team in the playoff chase and return to action. Now it looks like he's going to be back a lot sooner than that.

According to Yahoo!'s Tim Brown, Byrd is ready to start pitching competitively for someone right now, and he's ditching his original plan of waiting until the break. No official offers have been reported yet, but Byrd would be an incredible fit for a heck of a lot of teams, including just about anyone in the AL West. And I mean anyone. Obviously, the Angels would love to coax Byrd back to the West coast. The Rangers have had so many pitching problems in the past decade that they could have five Cy Young winners and still feel the need to add more starters. The A's may be looking after losing Joey Devine and seeing Dana Eveland get rocked by the Yankees, and Seattle is, well, Seattle.

That being said, Byrd claims he'd like to stay as close as possible to his Atlanta-area home (I believe he told Ken Rosenthal that way back in the middle of the winter, though I can't seem to find the original story), which could present a problem if he wants to land with a competitor. Obviously, both the Nationals and Orioles could do a lot worse than Byrd in their rotations (and their pitchers currently are doing a lot more than Byrd), but neither team can really sell itself as a legitimate contender this year. That's not necessarily the case for teams in the AL Central, however. The White Sox, Royals and Indians could all find a spot for Byrd, and he's already pitched in Cleveland once, which certainly makes you wonder if he'll try to fly back to Jacobs Field now.

Yet this move may be as significant for teams that aren't interested in retaining Byrd as all the ones who will jockey for him. The Red Sox will receive a compensatory pick in June's draft if Byrd signs before then, since they offered him arbitration, which he rejected in the offseason. There's certainly no sense that there's a spot for Byrd with Boston, so the Sox's only interest is in getting something in return for losing the veteran. As for some other major contenders -- the Rays, Yankees, Mets, Cardinals and Cubs -- it's probably too early for those teams to make a big push to sign Byrd, which means that by putting himself in the shop window now, Byrd may actually be cutting off some of his leverage. The Mets or Cardinals might reach and sign him now, but there's no reason to believe that will actually happen.

Instead, Byrd will probably settle for a second-tier playoff contender, which isn't a bad solution, though it means he'll have to get lucky to land in the midst of a title race like he did last year in Boston. That's not a bad thing, but it does shine an interesting light on a different way to approach the Roger Clemens plan if the pitcher in question isn't Roger Clemens.

By Cameron Smith  |  April 24, 2009; 1:57 PM ET
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