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Not hurtin': White Sox buy out Thomas for $3.5M

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox bought out Frank Thomas for $3.5 million on Friday, making the best slugger in team history eligible for free agency.

The 37-year-old Thomas exercised a $10 million mutual option for next season on Monday, giving the team five days to decide whether to exercise its half. The White Sox could try to re-sign the two-time AL MVP for less money.

"There should be no question about the respect this
organization has for Frank and all that he has helped us
accomplish, including a World Series championship," general
manager Ken Williams said in a statement. "He is the greatest
hitter in White Sox history. At the same time, it is my
responsibility to make the best decisions I can on behalf of the
organization. Our plan now is to continue to speak with Frank and
his representatives over the coming months as more information is
known about his health."

Thomas, who has missed most of the past two years with foot and
ankle problems, hit .219 with 12 homers in just 105 at-bats last
season. He missed the first two months while recovering from
surgery on his left ankle, then broke the ankle in July, ending his
season.

A career .307 hitter with 448 homers and 1,465 RBI, Thomas is the team's leader in most offensive categories. He has spent his entire career with the White Sox and has said he wants to return.

"Obviously, our hopes are still that we'll be able to work
something out with the White Sox. It would be ideal to see Frank
retire as a White Sox," said Thomas' agent, Arn Tellem.

Tellem also said that Thomas, who had his foot examined in Los
Angeles on Thursday, is "feeling good."

"I heard overall it was very positive," Tellem said.

In another move, Chicago agreed to a $650,000, one-year contract with backup catcher Chris Widger, a $150,000 raise from his base salary this year.