Clay Buchholz might have considered going through the arbitration process for the next three years and waiting for his big money strike in free agency.
But then, he has an 8-month-old daughter to worry about.
So, rather than risk injury or other depreciation to his value, and presented with a chance to gain long-term security with a multi-year contract from the Red Sox, he took it. On Sunday, Buchholz finalized a four-year deal that will guarantee him $29.7 million over the next four seasons. After making $550,000 this year, he will make $3.5 million next season, $5.5 million in 2013, $7.7 million in 2014, $12 million in 2015 and receive a $1 million signing bonus.
It's comparable to recent pre-arbitration multi-year deals signed by Red Sox ace lefty Jon Lester (five years, $30 million), Toronto Blue Jays lefty Ricky Romero (five years, $30.1 million) and Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo (five years, $30.1 million). Each of those deals featured one option year.
But Buchholz valued the financial security so much that he agreed to give the Red Sox two team options that, if exercised, are worth $13 million in 2016 and $13.5 million in 2017, according to a major-league source.
"If it was me, and I didn't have a wife and a kid that I had to take care of, it might've been a decision I would've had to think about a little bit more," Buchholz said. "But from the first time we talked about it, I knew what my heart was telling me and what my family and I both wanted. That's what drove me to this decision."
Buchholz also is only 26, so the Red Sox will have him locked up through at least age 30. Beyond that, if his performance begins to decline, the options will give them financial flexibility.
"That was just something that was important to the club," general manager Theo Epstein said of the option years. "We think very highly of Clay or we wouldn't be doing this deal. It just gives the club a little more flexibility in exchange for the security that we're providing through the deal. It seems to make sense."
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