Over the next few days we'll be taking a look at teams off to rough starts, speculating on who they could make available if they don't right the ship. We're not writing these teams off; they've played less than 10% of the season.
The White Sox are in a rut, already five games back of the Twins in the AL Central. Should they go into sell mode in two or three months, they could save millions and add farm system depth while still fielding a competitive 2011 club. A few trade possibilities:
- Paul Konerko has been with the Sox since before Kenny Williams was in charge, and Williams is the fifth longest-tenured GM in the game. Moving Konerko would relieve part of his $12MM salary, though Williams will need his first baseman's approval. The Sox are unlikely to offer arbitration to Konerko after the season, so the marginal cost of draft picks shouldn't be a consideration.
- Bobby Jenks is up to $7.5MM this year, with one last arbitration raise coming in 2011. He could be dealt if the Sox deem Matt Thornton worthy of closing in '11.
- A.J. Pierzynski should achieve 10-and-5 status in mid-June, at which point the White Sox would need his approval for a trade. The Sox could potentially hand the keys over to Tyler Flowers if they trade Pierzynski.
- Scott Linebrink has looked good in his last three appearances, but it'd be tough to find a taker for a contract that pays him $5MM this year and $5.5MM in '11. Partial salary relief could be possible, given the demand for relievers during the summer.
- J.J. Putz is on a much more agreeable contract, with a $3MM base salary. In his first five appearances he's whiffed ten batters and walked none in 5.3 innings. His velocity is down a tick, but his groundball rate is up. Putz's incentives include another $250K if he reaches 70 games and big rewards beginning at 40 games finished. Given his contract and experience, Putz could be one of the summer's most coveted relievers.
- Five veterans, paid $1.5MM or less, would make good midseason trade bait: Andruw Jones, Freddy Garcia, Mark Kotsay, Omar Vizquel, and Ramon Castro.