During the offseason of 1996, the White Sox signed Albert Belle to a then-record contract of $55 million for five years. Belle was coming off another impressive season with the Cleveland Indians and also came with a lot of baggage. His attitude wasn’t the best and he often fought with opposing players.
However, Belle’s signing was perceived well in 1996 as he was joining a Sox team with Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, and Ozzie Guillen. Belle would only play two seasons in a Sox uniform as he was granted free agency after the 1998 season as he invoked a clause in his contract to be one of the highest paid players in baseball.
Despite only playing two seasons with the Sox, Belle would go on to have productive years in 1997 and in 1998. In 1997, Belle finished his first year with the Sox with a .274/.332/.491 slash line to go along with 30 home runs, 116 RBIs, and a .823 OPS. Belle was also a member of the American League All-Star team that year.
In 1998, Belle would have a history-making year with the Sox. His last season with the Sox was his absolute best year. Although the Sox got nowhere near playoff contention that season, Belle put up some massive numbers offensively. Belle finished 1998 with an impressive .328/.399/.655 slash line and a Sox single-season record 49 home runs to go along with 152 RBIs and a 1.055 OPS.
Belle might not have been in a Sox uniform for long but his productive seasons in 1997 and 1998 made his signing very good as a free agent. Belle would end his career with the Baltimore Orioles and remained productive offensively into his last season in the Majors in 2000.