Cubs land Byrd, fill need in center field

The Cubs found the center fielder they'd been searching for, agreeing Thursday to a $15 million, three-year contract with Marlon Byrd.

And the Cubs are hoping to have more success with this former Texas Rangers outfielder than the one they signed last offseason – Milton Bradley, who is now in Seattle.

Byrd, 32, hit .283 with 20 homers and 89 RBI last season for Texas. He will take over in center from Kosuke Fukudome, who will move to right field full-time after the trade of the troubled Bradley to Seattle.

A career .279 hitter with 60 homers and 335 RBI in 785 major league games with Philadelphia, Washington and Texas, Byrd will be reunited with former Texas and current Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. In three seasons working with Jaramillo in Texas, Byrd batted .295 with 40 homers and 212 RBI.

Byrd gets $3 million next year, $5.5 million in 2011 and $6.5 million in 2012.

Byrd led the Rangers in game-winning RBI last season with 12. Baez off to Phillies?

The Philadelphia Phillies and free agent reliever Danys Baez have reached a deal. A person familiar with the negotiations said the sides agreed on a two-year contract. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Baez must pass a physical for the contract to be complete.

Baez adds depth to the back end of Philadelphia’s bullpen. The 32-year-old right-hander was 4-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 59 games with Baltimore last year.

Lowell has thumb surgery

Mike Lowell is expected to be ready for spring training after having surgery Wednesday on a thumb injury that derailed his trade from the Boston Red Sox to the Texas Rangers.

The operation to repair a radial collateral ligament in his right thumb that was torn late last season was done in Phoenix by Dr. Donald Sheridan, the Red Sox said. The third baseman should recover in six to eight weeks.

The Red Sox had worked out a deal to send the 2007 World Series MVP to Texas for catcher Max Ramirez. It fell apart because of the injury, but the Red Sox are expected to revisit a trade once Lowell recovers.

Laird, brother arrested

Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird and his younger brother, New York Yankees top infield prospect Brandon Laird, were arrested following a brawl in the lounge area of Phoenix’s NBA arena during Wednesday’s Suns-Celtics game, police reported.

Phoenix police said Gerald Laird, 30, was cited for assault and 22-year-old Brandon Laird was cited for disorderly conduct. The brothers allegedly assaulted security guards.