ATLANTA, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The Atlanta Braves, who are taking an aggressive approach at revamping what has been one of the top pitching staffs in baseball, Friday signed free agent righthander Paul Byrd to a two-year, $10 million contract.
Earlier in the day, the Braves traded for San Francisco Giants pitcher Russ Ortiz.
Byrd went 17-11 with a 3.90 ERA last season with a base salary of less than $1 million for the frugal Kansas City Royals. A righthander who relies on pinpoint control and movement, Byrd gave up 224 hits with 38 walks and 129 strikeouts in 228 1/3 innings.
"Paul has been wanting to get back to Atlanta for five years now," said Byrd's agent, Bo McKinnis. "He's very excited with the deal and looks forward to rejoining some old friends. We did leave some significant money on the table, but this is where Paul really wanted to be."
Byrd, who pitched for the Braves for parts of 1997-98, reportedly had drawn interest from the Royals and Philadelphia Phillies.
Atlanta dealt lefthander Damian Moss and prospect Manuel Mateo to the Giants for Ortiz and acquired lefthander Mike Hampton from the Florida Marlins last month.
Tom Glavine, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, left the Braves this winter to sign with the National League East Division rival New York Mets. And Tuesday's deals could mean that four-time Cy Young winner Greg Maddux, who is eligible for arbitration, will end his 10-year tenure with the Braves.
The 32-year-old Byrd is 52-46 with a 4.39 ERA in 196 games, including 108 starts. He went 15-11 with a 4.60 ERA and made the All-Star team with Philadelphia in 1999. The following year, he was 2-9 with a 6.51 ERA before undergoing season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery in August.
Byrd began 2001 in the minor leagues and was 0-1 with an 8.01 ERA in three starts with Philadelphia before being dealt to Kansas City where he was 6-6 with a 4.05 ERA in 16 games. He began his career with the Mets in 1995 and, two years later, was dealt to Atlanta, where he went 4-4 in 1997-98.