CHICAGO (AP) – Mark Kotsay agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, keeping the reliable center fielder with the club through the 2008 season.

The deal supercedes the final year of his current contract, a five-year deal through the 2006 season.

“I think I’m going to be an Oakland A for a long time, I hope I am,” Kotsay said.

Kotsay, acquired after the 2003 season from San Diego for Ramon Hernandez and Terrence Long, was batting .278 with six home runs and 43 RBIs in 82 games with the A’s this season heading into Saturday’s game against the White Sox in Chicago.

Prior to the extension, Kotsay was mentioned in several trade rumors.

“Obviously there was a lot of rumors about me going to different places, but in the end I did realize I wanted to stay an Oakland A and be part of the process to hopefully win a championship here,” said Kotsay, who has a no-trade clause through the 2006 season.

Athletics general manager Billy Beane wasn’t surprised by the interest the rest of the league had for Kotsay.

“I think it is a testament to the appreciation the rest of the league has for Mark Kotsay. We certainly recognize that as well, which is why we did the extension,” Beane said.

Kotsay hasn’t committed an error this year and his 198 total chances are second-most among AL outfielders with no errors. He had seven assists, which were tied for fourth among AL outfielders.

The A’s have six players under contract beyond the 2005 season, not including Scott Hatteberg, Keiichi Yabu and Barry Zito, all of whom have club options for next season.

In addition to Kotsay, the five other five players signed are: Eric Chavez, Bobby Crosby, Keith Ginter, Rich Harden and Jason Kendall.

“This should be a great day for the fans in Oakland. They should take this as commitment by our organization to keep a player here who contributes so much to winning baseball games,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said.

AP-ES-07-09-05 1859EDT

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