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Frank Thomas put up, well, Frank Thomas numbers this year.
But that doesn't mean he's eager to test the free-agent waters.
"You never know what the free-agent market's going to hold," he said. "Last year was a bust."
So Thomas wants to stay with the White Sox?
"Of course I want to be here," he said before the Sox unloaded on the Royals in a 19-3 victory Saturday night. "This has been my career home. I had a great year and I hope to be back."
But it might not be that simple.
Thomas can opt to stay for $6 million. If he declines, the Sox can set him free or offer $8 million.
Thomas then could either take the $8 million or become a free agent by paying a $2 million buyout. The deadline for him to decide is Dec. 7.
"Hopefully, we come to terms with something," Thomas said. "I'm happy and I've had a great year, so it's not a big issue like it was last year."
The Sox clinched second place in the American League Central with Saturday's victory, reaching season highs with 19 runs, 21 hits and seven doubles.
Bartolo Colon finished the season 15-13 with a 3.87 ERA by firing his career-best ninth complete game, tying Oakland's Mark Mulder for the league high.
Joe Crede drove in four runs with three doubles, Carl Everett tied a career high with four hits and Willie Harris reached base his first four times up.
"Willie really sparked us," manager Jerry Manuel said.
Thomas reached base in all four plate appearances, boosting his team-high on-base percentage to .389 to go along with a .267 average, 42 homers and 105 RBIs.
"Frank has always been a guy that's prided himself on his numbers," Manuel said, "and with his talent, they've been pretty good for most of his career."
Manuel was asked whether he'd advise Thomas to stay on the South Side or test free agency.
"Whatever I tell him, he'd probably do the opposite anyway," Manuel said with a smile. "I think a career with one team says a lot. A born and raised superstar ... I'd like to see it. In this day and age, it just doesn't really happen."
While Manuel, expected to be let go as manager, will remain on the Sox's payroll next season, earning about $1.2 million, his coaching staff will be in limbo.
"Good baseball people always find a way to survive," Manuel said. "And I think we have some of the best."
Pitching coach Don Cooper oversaw a staff that leads the American League with 97 quality starts. Under hitting coach Greg Walker, the Sox batted a league-high .288 after the All-Star break.
"They all did a good job," Manuel said. "I'm really proud of them."
Now that the Cubs have clinched a postseason berth, Manuel hopes to see them face the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship Series. That would pit manager Felipe Alou against Dusty Baker.
"One's like a dad, the other's like a big brother," Manuel said. "I'd pay to see that series."
With Ozzie Guillen's name being mentioned as a possible replacement for Manuel, Thomas was asked if he could picture him as a manager.
"I don't know if I could because I played with him so long," Thomas said. "But he knows the game and played it right.
"He's doing a heck of a job as the third-base coach in Florida. Suddenly, those guys turn into managers. Tony Pena, I played with him. Great manager. He's fiery. Sooner or later, [Ozzie] will be a manager. But who knows where?"
One Sox player said Guillen could thrive as the Sox's manager with a veteran bench coach such as Joe Nossek.
Painting the corners
The Sox presented Esteban Loaiza with a portrait collage Saturday to commemorate his All-Star season.
The $6,000 painting was paid for largely by reliever Billy Koch.
The artist was Vernon Wells, father of the Blue Jays outfielder and a former teammate of Koch's.
"That means a lot," said Loaiza, who will go for win No. 21 Sunday. "It tells me that all my teammates like me."