Left fielder avoids arbitration with new contract

CHICAGO -- Left fielder Scott Podsednik agreed to a one-year, $2.9 million contract with the Chicago White Sox, avoiding arbitration.

Podsednik batted .261 with three home runs, 45 RBI and 40 stolen bases in 2006, becoming the fourth player in White Sox history to record back-to-back seasons with 40 steals.

But the numbers represented a significant drop-off from a year earlier, when he hit .290 and stole 59 bases, prompting widespread speculation the White Sox would let him go and find a new left fielder and leadoff batter.

But the White Sox determined Podsednik was worth bringing back.

"Obviously what this signing says is I support him as our leadoff man and our primary left fielder," general manager Ken Williams said on a conference call Friday.

Williams, however, has continued to say he doesn't plan wholesale changes for 2007, citing the high cost of players as one reason.

"It's just a ridiculous market. It's beyond ridiculous," Williams said.

Podsednik, a career .275 hitter, leads the major leagues with 169 steals over the past three seasons. He was an American League All-Star in 2005 after being acquired from Milwaukee and won Game 2 of that year's World Series with a walkoff home run.

The Brewers traded him to the White Sox along with pitcher Luis Vizcaino and first baseman Travis Hinton for outfielder Carlos Lee in December 2004.

"Right now we feel like we had a club last year that was a 90-win club that underachieved by some eight to 10 ballgames," he said. "With the additional respite our pitching staff is going to have, we feel like we can get back to that area."

As for trading one of his starting pitchers, Williams said there's nothing that intrigues him right now.

Freddy Garcia's name has been mentioned in trade rumors since
the White Sox could move Brandon McCarthy out of the bullpen and
into the rotation.

Williams also reiterated what he said earlier this week: that's it unlikely the White Sox will give third baseman Joe Crede a multi-year extension because of the market.

Crede, who is arbitration eligible and has also been the subject of trade speculation, can't be a free agent until after the 2008 season. He hit 31 homers with 94 RBI last season and was a standout defensively while playing with a sore back. He also was a postseason star in 2005.

"I do not see a multi-year deal on the horizon for Joe Crede because of circumstances -- market place combined with our circumstances, other landscape issues," Williams said.