[editor's note, by The Cheat] I was just writing something about the new going rate for starting pitching, including the realization that the Sox probably wouldn't be able to afford Garland or Contreras.
The Sox just got a deal done with Garland that I thought was impossible. Garland had no real reason to sign an extension. He was going to make around $7M at arbitration no matter what, and if he hit the free agent market as a 27-year old he might have commanded a 6 year deal. The Sox gave him his $7M in '06, and somehow got Garland to essentially sign a 2-year/$22M free agent contract on top of that.
With $11M/year being the going rate this season for above average starting pitching, this is a great deal for both sides. Garland will reach free agency around the normal age of 29; the White Sox get cost certainty, and get one of the best pitchers of '05 locked up for the not-too-long-term. -- Short enough that if he flops, his contract doesn't cripple the franchise for the foreseeable future; long enough that the Sox have some stability in their rotation, and enough time to find (or develop) a viable replacement at a cheaper cost.