Baseball: White Sox sign Belle for a cool $50m

The Chicago White Sox have made Albert Belle the game's highest-paid player, signing him to a five-year contract estimated to be worth more than $50m (pounds 30m).

Belle, who led the majors with 98 home runs for the last two seasons, has signed a a five-year contract with a one-year option.

The signing is a surprise since it was believed the Florida Marlins had the best chance to lure Belle away from the Cleveland Indians. The Marlins offered Belle a four-year contract, worth $38m.

The White Sox owner and chairman, Jerry Reinsdorf, said: "Money wasn't what it was all about, although this contract makes him the highest-paid player in baseball. He signed with us because he likes playing in Chicago and batting behind Frank Thomas."

Belle said: "It was important for me to stay in the American League. I like the way the organisation is emphasising a championship. Frank Thomas is a good friend of mine and I know he had some influence in getting me over here."

Belle last week rejected the Indians' five-year offer, worth $40m.