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James Shields to opt in to final two years of contract

The right-hander will not exercise the opt-out clause in his deal, and will return to the White Sox next season.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

White Sox right-hander James Shields will opt in to the final two years of his contract and return to Chicago, a major-league source tells SB Nation. Shields’ contract included an opt-out clause that would have allowed him to choose to test free agency this winter.

Shields’ decision to return to the White Sox was widely expected, as the 34-year old posted a 6-19 record and 5.85 ERA in 33 starts last season. Despite a weak free-agent pitching class this winter, Shields is owed $44 million in guaranteed money over the next two seasons and would not have received offers of that caliber on the open market.

Shields will be paid $21 million in each of the next two years before his contract calls for a $16 million option or $2 million buyout. The Padres are reportedly on the hook for half ($22 million) of his remaining salary after trading Shields to the White Sox in June.

Shields will look to rebound in his second season with the White Sox just two seasons after earning a 4-year, $75 million deal from San Diego. He is a veteran of 11 major-league seasons with the Rays (2006-12), Royals (2013-14), Padres (2015-16) and White Sox (2016), and owns a career 3.91 ERA.