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12/21/07 8:23 PM ET

Sox reportedly cut deal with Ramirez

Versatile Cuban can play shortstop, second and center field

CHICAGO -- Two baseball sources have confirmed to MLB.com that the White Sox have agreed in principle on a four-year, $4.75 million deal with Alexei Ramirez. The versatile Cuban exile still has to pass a physical, and an official announcement from the team probably won't come until after the New Year.

"We have arrived at an agreement with the White Sox for a Major League contract for Alexei's services," agent Jaime Torres told the Associated Press on Friday.

Ramirez, whose age is listed at 26, was a natural shortstop in Cuba but also can play second base and center field. His arrival does not necessarily mean that the White Sox are done pursuing a veteran outfielder, as Ramirez may need some time in the Minors to prepare himself for the big leagues.

Playing for Pinar Del Rio in Cuba, the same team for which White Sox pitcher Jose Contreras once suited up, Ramirez hit .332 with 87 home runs and 391 RBIs over seven seasons. Ramirez arrived in the Dominican Republic with a visa to visit his wife, who is Dominican, but defected and decided to establish residence there in November and pursue a career in the Major Leagues.

According to ESPNdeportes.com, which also reported the signing, Ramirez had collective workout sessions for scouts based in the Dominican Republic. Last season's home run leader in Cuba also had individual workouts for nine teams, including the White Sox, Cubs, Indians, Red Sox and Yankees.

Contreras, who has posted a 43-37 record during parts of four seasons pitching for the White Sox but is coming off a 10-17 effort with a 5.57 ERA last season, should help Ramirez's adjustment to both Chicago and the big leagues. Both Contreras and Ramirez are represented by Torres.

The arrival of Ramirez could mean Juan Uribe's departure because of a healthy Pablo Ozuna possibly joining Ramirez in a super-sub role on the roster and Ramirez's ability to play shortstop.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.