White Sox extend Matt Thornton's deal

Updated: March 7, 2011, 1:25 PM ET
By Doug Padilla | ESPNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago White Sox left-hander Matt Thornton, currently in a battle to be the team's primary closer, agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract extension Sunday with a club option for 2014.

"It was an easy choice with an organization like this with what they've done the last five months or so, maintaining the core guys, adding the pieces and expecting to win," Thornton said. "That's my goal, is to win at least one World Series."

Thornton will finish out his current deal this season, making $3 million, before getting $5.5 million in both 2012 and 2013. His 2014 option would be worth $6 million. There is a $1 million buyout for that year.

Thornton, 34, posted a 2.67 ERA in 60 2/3 innings last season, primarily in a setup role, and was named to his first American League All-Star team. Along with 81 strikeouts, which led all AL relievers, he also had a career-high eight saves.

Thornton is the favorite to earn the primary closer role this season. He is battling for the job with left-hander Chris Sale, as well as right-handers Sergio Santos and Jesse Crain.

Thornton was asked if the added money makes it official that he will be the closer this season.

"I don't care, whatever you want me to do," he said with a laugh. "I've made that clear I will do what they want even before the deal. They gave me security and, trust me, my goal is to stay in Chicago [the] rest of my career."

Manager Ozzie Guillen said earlier this spring that his ideal bullpen lineup has Thornton in the closer's role.

Thornton, a Michigan native, also led all AL relievers in strikeouts per nine innings last season (12.02) and inherited runners scored percentage (12.9). He limited left-handed hitters to a .175 batting average with 44 strikeouts.

Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.

Doug Padilla

Chicago White Sox beat reporter
Doug joined ESPN Chicago in July 2010 and covers the Chicago White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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