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White Sox continue spending spree, agree to deal with Melky Cabrera

Outfielder Melky Cabrera agrees to a three-year deal with the Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox's stealth pursuit of free agent Melky Cabrera paid off late Saturday when the former Blue Jays outfielder agreed to a three-year deal. confirmed the 30-year-old Cabrera agreed to a deal worth an estimated $42 million to 43.5 million, pending a physical.

Cabrera does carry some baggage after being suspended for 50-games during the 2012 season with the Giants for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. That mistake cost him a National League batting title and a chance to play in the postseason for the eventual world champions.

Cabrera's past will always be part of his resume, but as Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz have proven, there no longer seems to be any stigma to giving out lucrative deals to players associated with PEDs.

The move gives the Sox some much-needed on-base percentage from the left field spot, and another table-setter to join Adam Eaton.

Between Adam La Roche, David Robertson and Cabrera, the Sox have now spent over $113 million on three key free agents while filling holes at DH, closer and left field. They also acquired A's starter Jeff Samardzija in a six-player deal. It's the biggest offseason since General Manager Rick Hahn took over, and indicates they're looking to win now, as Manager Robin Ventura reiterated at the winter meetings.

“We were setting ourselves up to do something at this winter meetings,” he said, “The last couple years, there really were not a lot of opportunities. We had a couple trades, but nothing of this magnitude. So that's the part where you're changing the mood and the view of how people see it.”

The switch-hitting Cabrera, who began his major league career with the Yankees in 2005, is a career .286 hitter with a .339 on-base percentage. His best season was in 2012 when Cabrera was the All-Star Game MVP and was leading the NL with a .346 average in mid-August while posting a .390 OBP.

Lester sets record with $30-million signing bonus

Jon Lester set Major League Baseball records for largest signing bonus and biggest upfront payment with his $155 million, seven-year deal with the Chicago Cubs.

The pitcher's contract calls for a $30 million signing bonus, of which $15 million is due by April 1, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press on Sunday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because those details have not been announced.

The previous high for a signing bonus had been Vernon Wells' $25.5 million under a $126 million, seven-year deal with Toronto that covered 2008-14 and was announced in December 2006. Wells' bonus was payable in three equal installments on March 1 each year from 2008-10.

Lester's upfront payment tops a mark set Dec. 8 by Cuban defector Yasmany Tomas.

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