Reliever Dotel, White Sox finalize two-year contract

CHICAGO -- Octavio Dotel knows he's joining a team that
struggled last season. He also sees an opportunity to play in the
World Series.

Dotel and the Chicago White Sox agreed Tuesday to an $11
million, two-year contract, bolstering a bullpen that ranked among
the majors' worst last season.

"I think they've got good starting pitchers, and they've got a
great bullpen," he said. "The chance to be in the World Series is
the reason I signed with the White Sox."

The 34-year-old right-hander spent last season with the Kansas
City Royals and Atlanta Braves, but a shoulder injury limited him
to 33 appearances and 30 2/3 innings. He went 2-1 with a 4.11 ERA
and was dealt from Kansas City to Atlanta at the July 31 trade

Dotel had reconstructive elbow surgery in 2005 while with
Oakland and pitched for the New York Yankees the following year. He
has 82 career saves in nine major league seasons.

White Sox general manager Ken Williams said Dotel probably came
back too quickly from the elbow surgery and added he passed an MRI
and physical exams "with flying colors."

Dotel added he's 100 percent and feeling "better than before."

"If you can assess that he's going to be healthy and return
back to his normal production level, then the money is secondary at
that point and we focus on getting the team to be the best we can
possibly be," Williams said.

Dotel said Cleveland, San Francisco, both New York teams,
Baltimore and Pittsburgh were interested in him. He's joining a
team that won 72 games, thanks in part to a bullpen that blew 23
save chances, had a 19-25 record and a 5.49 ERA. He'll slot in
behind closer Bobby Jenks along with Scott Linebrink.

"Kenny was the one who showed more interest in me," Dotel
said. "That's the reason. He thinks I'm a great key for the
bullpen in 2008, even though we have Linebrink and Jenks as the
closer. I see help for me, too. When I come into the game, I know
I'm going to have help."

Upgrading the bullpen was a major goal for Williams, who signed
Linebrink to a $19 million, four-year contract in November. Now,
the White Sox have several right-handed set-up men for Jenks, who
had 41 and 40 saves, respectively, in the past two seasons.

"I'll be OK to set up for Jenks," said Dotel who will earn $5
million this year and $6 million in 2009. "He's a great closer,
one of the best in the league. It'll be good for me. There are
going to be some days he won't be available, and I'll be there."

But his main job will be to set up Jenks.

"What we needed to do was make sure we had a bridge to get the
ball to Bobby," Williams said. "Now, I believe we've got multiple
options -- not just with Dotel but obviously Linebrink. I expect
Matt Thornton to rebound and Mike MacDougal to rebound from
disappointing years. We feel good about the quality. We feel good
about the depth of our bullpen. We also feel good about the ability
to not tax Bobby Jenks to the point where we wear him out."

Dotel can earn an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses:
$50,000 for finishing 40 games; $75,000 for finishing 45; $100,000
for finishing 50; $125,000 for finishing 55; and $150,000 for
finishing 60.

Chicago also agreed to a $4.75 million, four-year contract with
Cuban slugger Alexei Ramirez and designated pitcher David Aardsma
for assignment.

The deal with Ramirez, who batted .335 with 20 homers and 68
RBIs last season in Cuba, had been in place for a month. An
infielder and outfielder, he will receive a $500,000 signing bonus
and be paid $950,000 this year and $1.1 million annually from 2009
to 2011.

Ramirez left Cuba in early September to join his wife and
children in the Dominican Republic.

Aardsma, a right-hander, was 2-1 with a 6.40 ERA in 25 relief
appearances with the White Sox last season.