Reliever, White Sox finalize four-year, $19 million deal

CHICAGO -- Reliever Scott Linebrink and the Chicago White Sox finalized their $19 million, four-year contract Wednesday, and the right-hander will move into the setup role that was such a problem last season.

The 31-year-old right-hander gets $4 million next year, $4.5 million in 2009, $5 million in 2010 and $5.5 million in 2011. He also has a no-trade provision.

Linebrink was 5-6 with a 3.71 ERA last season with San Diego and Milwaukee. Chicago's bullpen struggled, especially in the seventh and eighth innings, as the White Sox slumped to 72-90 this year.

The White Sox's bullpen blew 23 saves, had a 19-25 record and an ERA of 5.49. Upgrading was a major goal for White Sox general manager Kenny Williams, who found out that it is a tight market for relievers.

"No. 1, in order to find that guy, you have to have a willing participant. On the trade market there isn't anything, really on the rest of the free-agent market, there isn't a whole lot that excites me out there," Williams said. "This guy has been on my radar for the last 2 1/2 years. I had a lot of conversations with San Diego. I thought I had him at the break last year, but sometimes these things take time."

Linebrink went 3-3 with a 3.80 ERA in 44 games for the Padres before being acquired by the Brewers on July 25 and going 2-3 with a 3.55 ERA in 27 games. He gave up 12 homers, a high number for a setup reliever. Williams said Linebrink will have to rely on his sinker more pitching at U.S. Cellular Field.

"He goes in as that right-handed set up guy. He goes into that spot and pushes everyone else down," Williams said.

He is 30-16 with a 3.21 ERA during an eight-year career that included stints with San Francisco and Houston.

It's the second major move for the White Sox in the offseason. They acquired shortstop Orlando Cabrera from the Angels for right-hander Jon Garland. But they've also been looking to upgrade their outfield.

The White Sox had their sights on free-agent center fielder Torii Hunter before he signed a lucrative deal with the Angels, a major disappointment for Williams.

"I'll let you know when I get over that," Williams said. "You go into this knowing full well that you're greatest desires are very rarely realized. So you have to have a plan, have to have a direction and go down your list. You have to respect all the other players on your target list with what you expressed to them. ... We'll just see what develops. Something might develop on the trade market."

Chicago also asked for unconditional release waivers for outfielder Scott Podsednik, who was designated for assignment Nov. 20, and infielder Alex Cintron.

Podsednik, a major player on the 2005 World Series winner, hit .243 last season, when he twice went on the disabled list. Cintron batted .243 in 68 games last season as a utility infielder. He has played two seasons in Chicago.