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Downs officially in fold as White Sox announce deal

Veteran left-handed reliever under contract for 2014, with club option for '15

Downs officially in fold as White Sox announce deal play video for Downs officially in fold as White Sox announce deal

CHICAGO -- The addition of veteran left-handed reliever Scott Downs to the White Sox became official Thursday, with an announcement of a one-year, $4 million deal that includes a club option for 2015.

Under terms of the agreement, Downs earns $3.75 million in 2014, while the White Sox hold a $4.25 million option for 2015 with a $250,000 buyout.

Downs, 37, combined to go 4-4 with a 2.49 ERA, 37 strikeouts and 26 holds over 68 appearances last season between the Angels and Braves. He tied for 10th overall in holds. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Downs was 2-3 with a 1.84 ERA and 18 holds in 43 games and 29 1/3 innings with the Angels before being traded to the Braves on July 29, where he went 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA and eight holds in 25 games and 14 innings.

"Downs provides us with some balance to our bullpen and another veteran arm for [White Sox manager] Robin [Ventura] to call upon late in games," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn in a statement concerning the Downs' signing. "Scott's impact will not only be felt on the field, but given his makeup and leadership skills, it will be felt in the clubhouse and bullpen as well."

Originally beginning his career as a starting pitcher with the Cubs and Expos after being taken by the Cubs in the third round of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft, Downs split time between the rotation and bullpen with the Blue Jays in 2005. He has pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen since '06, minus five starts that season, and has produced a 38-36 overall record with a 3.48 ERA and 166 holds in 564 games.

He ranks second in holds and fifth in appearances among active left-handers. Over the past seven seasons (2007-13), Downs has recorded a 2.33 ERA with a Major League best 160 holds while limiting left-handers to a .204 average. During that span, Downs has produced at least 24 holds six times and has not allowed more than four home runs in a season. He put up a career-best 1.34 ERA with the Angels in 2011 and a 1.78 mark with the Blue Jays in 2008.

Adding Downs and right-handed pitcher Ronald Belisario not only seems to complete Hahn's bullpen work, but also helps offset the losses of key veteran relievers such as Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain from last season. Addison Reed's trade to the D-backs for Matt Davidson opens up the closer spot, with Nate Jones looking as the clubhouse leader.

But Matt Lindstrom, Belisario, Downs and rookie Daniel Webb give the White Sox insulation in that last line of pitching. Downs has 26 career saves, with nine in 2009 and nine in 2012.

To make room for Downs on the 40-man roster, the White Sox designated left-hander Santos Rodriguez for assignment.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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