White Sox give Contreras 3-year, $29M extension
ATLANTA -- Jose Contreras and the Chicago White Sox agreed to a $29 million, three-year contract extension Saturday after he was the team's most effective pitcher during the second half of its 2005 championship season.
Contreras, who was in the final year of a deal that will pay him $8 million this season, will get $9 million in 2007 and $10 million each in 2008 and 2009. He has a no-trade clause for 2007.
White Sox general manager Ken Williams said finalizing the deal was a long process.
"We had a number in mind, we had a term and it was basically whether or not Jose and his agent were going to understand our position enough to want to come back at those numbers," Williams said before Chicago played an exhibition game against the Atlanta Braves.
The World Series champions host Cleveland on Sunday night in the major league season opener.
Contreras, 34, finished 15-7 with a 3.61 ERA last season after a dramatic second-half turnaround -- he went 11-2 after the All-Star break. He was 3-1 with a 3.09 ERA in the postseason and was the Game 1 starter in each of Chicago's three series, against Boston, the Los Angeles Angels and Houston.
The right-hander set career highs for wins (15), starts (32), innings pitched (204) and strikeouts (154). He is slated to be third in the rotation this season behind Mark Buehrle and Freddy Garcia.
The Chicago White Sox expect to have their regular leadoff hitter in the lineup when they open the regular season Sunday night against the Cleveland Indians.
Scott Podsednik, who has been slowed by a sore left shoulder and a sore adductor muscle in spring training, went 3-for-6 as a designated hitter in a minor-league game Friday afternoon, reporting afterward that he felt good.
"He said everything went well," White Sox head trainer Herm Schneider said. "He'll crank it up even more [Saturday] and be ready to go on Sunday."
"He's happy he's going to stay with this team," White Sox coach Joey Cora said, translating for Contreras.
"He wanted to get something done before the season started so he can just focus on the season and get rid of any trade rumors," Cora said. "They've been working on it all spring and he's happy that it got done. It was fair to both parties."
Every member of Chicago's rotation is under contract through at least 2007.
"We have said over and over again that pitching is the priority when it comes to building our club," Williams said.
After winning only one of his first eight outings a year ago, Contreras found his control by altering his arm angle to three-quarters.
He was steady down the stretch, while the White Sox let a 15-game lead in the AL Central dwindle to 1½ games. He won eight of his last nine starts, helping Chicago win the division. The White Sox then won 11 of 12 games in the postseason for their first World Series title since 1917.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Contreras was wildly inconsistent for the New York Yankees after signing a $32 million, four-year contract following his defection from Cuba in October 2002. He was traded to the White Sox for Esteban Loaiza on July 31, 2004.
Contreras has a career mark of 35-18 with a 3.61 ERA in three major-league seasons. He played seven years with the Cuban national team.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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