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Sox Sign Buehrle

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jul 9, 2007 12:06PM

2007_07_sports_buehrle_signs.jpgAfter weeks of negotiations and a supposed stalemate that looked likely to end his White Sox career, Mark Buerhle and the Sox came to an agreement Sunday on a four-year, $56 million deal that will end all trade speculation about the lefty ace.

Chicagoist had spent part of Saturday afternoon watching Buehrle pitch, lamenting the fact that it was likely his last start for our Sox. On the day following 20 and 12-run outbursts by the Minnesota Twins — 32 total runs! — in a double header, Buehrle held them scoreless over eight innings, as if going out of his way to prove his value to the club.

Perhaps that outing is what finally what sealed the deal. We're not sure who finally blinked, but we suspect it was Sox GM Kenny Williams.

While early on in the negotiations, Williams broke his rule about offering pitchers deals longer than four years, the sticking point had been Buehrle's demand for a no-trade clause. In return for re-signing with the Sox at a rate lower than he likely would have commanded on the free agency market, he wanted a guarantee that he'd remain in a Sox uniform. Williams wanted some ability to escape a giant contract should he need to.

Ultimately, the deal includes a partial no-trade clause. Buehrle cannot be traded this year or in 2008. He could be traded during the 2009 season and through part of the 2010 season — until he gains automatic no-trade status on account of being a 10-year MLB veteran with the same team for the previous five years. Should Buehle be traded during that season-and-a-half window in the middle of the deal, his contract escalates to $15 million, and a fifth year gets added.

Will Williams regret breaking his rules by giving Buehrle the additional year and no-trade protection? We really don't think so. Only 28, Buehrle has been both durable and dependable for the Sox since joining the staff in 2000. We'd much rather see the Sox build (or re-build) their rotation around him than any of their other starters.

Even as we anticipate an imminent fire sale while the Sox remain well below .500 at the All-Star Break, Buehrle becomes the foundation to build around for the next title run. Looks like now Mark can unpack those boxes!

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