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Charlotte Native Inks $20 Million, Four-Year Deal With White Sox

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CHICAGO (AP) — Second baseman Ray Durham avoided a salary arbitration hearing Monday, agreeing to a $20 million, four-year contract with the Chicago White Sox.

Durham, selected to the All-Star team last season, made $1,935,000 last year. He had asked for $4.3 million in arbitration and the White Sox had submitted $3.35 million. The arbitration hearing had been scheduled Monday in Tampa, Fla.

The 27-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina native hit .285 with 19 homers, 67 RBIs and 36 steals last season, all career highs. He was second in the AL with 126 runs scored and his 19 homers were a club record for a second baseman.

Durham, entering his fifth major league season, has a .273 career average with 47 homers, 236 RBIs and 117 steals.

He will receive salaries of $3.4 million this season, $4.9 million in 2000, $5.9 million in 2001 and $5.8 million in 2002. If he has 625 plate appearances in 2001, his 2002 salary would increase to $6.3 million. If he has fewer than 625 plate appearances in 2001, he could earn a $500,000 bonus for 625 plate appearances in 2002.

The deal calls for Durham to receive $100,000 of his 2000 salary this year as an advance.

Chicago failed to re-sign free agents Albert Belle and Robin Ventura and will be counting on Durham and Frank Thomas for run production.

``We are committed to our young talent and are happy Ray will be a key part of this club's long-term foundation,'' White Sox general manager Ron Schueler said.

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