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Shields Signs, 7 Years, possibly 44 million

As expected, the Rays announced at a Wednesday afternoon news conference they had signed their prized right-hander to a long-term deal that could last as long as seven years and -- with incentives -- could be worth as much as $44 million.

Individual salary info to come, but this puts Shields in Tampa through his age 32 season, suggesting he'll need at least one more contract to be a Ray lifer - potentially the first for a player with more than five years of experience, depending on Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli's situations.

Also, off-topic, but Toby Hall just made some really interesting comments on the J.P. Peterson show regarding the hostility between himself and the team and implied that a local newspaper writer essentially caused it all by relaying a joke from the organization to Toby.

Update: Matt Bishoff 4:16 PM

The Tampa Tribune gives us this info:

Shields asked his agent last fall to contact the Rays and feel them out about a potential multiyear deal, something that Andrew Friedman admitted was not on his offseason to-do list. But both parties got together and made it work, with negotiations getting serious once the calendar rolled to 2008.
The St. Pete Times gives us the specs of the deal:
Shields is guaranteed $11.25-million - four years of salary starting at $1-million this season for a total of $9.25-million, plus a $2-million buyout - and the Rays hold options for 2012, 2013 and 2014. Shields will make $7-million if the Rays pick up his 2012 option, $9-million in 2013 and $12-million in 2014. There are also various incentive clauses based on innings pitched and starts, as well as where Shields finishes in the Cy Young voting that could add up to nearly $6-million more.

2008: 1.00M
2009: 1.50M
2010: 2.50M
2011: 4.25M
2012: 7.00M/2.00M buyout
2013: 9.00M
2014: 12.00M