Sergio Santos of the Chicago White Sox throws in the ninth inning during a game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
And when I say "long-term"... it's pretty complicated. Here's how the press release describes it:
Under the terms of the agreement, Santos will receive $1 million in 2012, $2.75 million in 2013 and $3.75 million in 2014. The White Sox hold a $6-million club option in 2015, an $8-million option in 2016 and an $8.75-million option in 2017. Santos was scheduled to be arbitration eligible following the 2012 season and eligible for free agency following the 2015 season.
Santos will receive a $750,000 buyout payment if any of the three club options are declined by the club.
Got all that? Essentially, the Sox have bought out all of Santos' arbitration years and his first two possible years of free agency, but they have a fairly inexpensive buyout for any of the option years.
Santos was installed as the White Sox' closer this season and posted a 3.55 ERA in 63 appearances. He had 30 saves, but six blown saves including a pair of crucial ones against the Tigers in September when the Sox were trying to cling to contention. This contract isn't very expensive in current terms, but it's a roll of the dice that for at least the next three years, Santos will be a consistent closer.