CHICAGO (AP) – Paul Konerko decided to stay with the World Series champion Chicago White Sox, agreeing Wednesday to a $60 million, five-year contract.

The first baseman led the White Sox with 40 homers and 100 RBIs last season, hitting .283. He was MVP of the AL championship series win over the Los Angeles Angels after hitting two homers and seven RBIs. He had a go-ahead grand slam in Game 2 of the World Series sweep over Houston, the first Series title for the White Sox since 1917.

“You have family, all things came into play,” Konerko said. “At the end of the day, “OK, I’m a baseball player and where am I going to feel the best?’ “

A two-time All-Star, Konerko had an $8.75 million base salary last season, then became a free agent after the Series. Last offseason, Chicago decided not to discuss an extension.

His new deal calls for him to receive $12 million annually. Chicago agreed to a limited no-trade clause that states he can’t be dealt to six specified teams without his permission.

“Paul in the last 24 to 48 hours really came to terms with the fact that he wanted to be a Chicago White Sox,” said his agent, Craig Landis. “He had a hard time turning down the chance to go back and try to win another championship in Chicago. He has loyalty to his teammates and to the fans there and feels very wanted, not just by the White Sox organization but by the whole city of Chicago. He felt that that could not be matched in other cities.” Konerko also was courted by the Angels, who offered just over $60 million for five years, and the Baltimore Orioles, who proposed a $65 million, five-year deal.

“When that offer was rejected late yesterday, we expected the talks to be ongoing,” said Orioles executive vice president Mike Flanagan, who wouldn’t confirm the figure. “But we sensed earlier today that he was headed back to Chicago.”

When the White Sox added a fifth year, Konerko had the deal he wanted.

“I said if I’m going to do it, do it the right way and get what was fair. And the White Sox gave me what was fair,” he said.

He had five homers and 15 RBIs in the postseason as the White Sox swept Boston in the opening round, closed out the Angels in five games as he hit first-inning homers in Games 3 and 4 and then beat the Astros.

Konerko was acquired by the White Sox from Cincinnati in a 1998 trade for Mike Cameron. In seven seasons with the White Sox, Konerko has averaged .283 with 29 homers and 95 RBIs.

“This is where he wanted to play. He just couldn’t pull the trigger elsewhere and envision himself in another uniform,” Landis said.

“He would be content spending his entire career in Chicago.”

Konerko returned just a week after the White Sox acquired Jim Thome from Philadelphia for Aaron Rowand.

“This was the greatest move the White Sox could make to bring me back. I don’t have many heroes, but he’s one of them. He’s one of the guys I’ve looked up to since I’ve been in the big leagues,” Konerko said of Thome

Now the White Sox project to have a strong middle of the order, with the right-handed Konerko batting cleanup ahead of the left-handed-swinging Thome. Also a first baseman, Thome is coming off an injury-filled shortened season with the Phillies and figures to be the designated hitter.

With Konerko and Thome, it’s unclear whether Chicago will try to re-sign Frank Thomas. But the chances would appear to be slim.

GM Kenny Williams said he wouldn’t announce a decision on Thomas’ future until he had time to talk with the two-time MVP.

AP-ES-11-30-05 1721EST


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