Paul Konerko Rumors
As we work on catching up on things after a busy few days, here's the latest from the AL Central, which has been among the game's busiest divisions of late:
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski made clear today that the trades of Prince Fielder and Doug Fister were connected both to the signing of closer Joe Nathan and the need to lock up major players like Max Scherzer, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck. "A very big part of what we were trying to accomplish [was] to get a closer," said Dombrowski. "And when I say that, sometimes you need some flexibility to make some other things happen, too. We do have some players that are on the verge of being free agents that are pretty big players for us, that you want to create some flexibility there to be in the right spot at various times."
- Dombrowski did, however, downplay the likelihood of a major new signing. "I would think that we would not be involved in the big [names]," said the GM.
In the wake of the Fielder-for-Ian Kinsler trade, Dombrowski says Nick Castellanos will start at third base with Miguel Cabrera moving back to first, writes Chris Iott of MLive.com. The news confirms what had been suspected at the time, and jives with rumors linking Detroit to Shin-Soo Choo. It also confirms the broader market effects of the Fielder-Kinsler swap: that deal increased the amount of cash pegged for corner outfielders.
- Indeed, one such player, Carlos Beltran, is fielding interest from several clubs. He is very unlikely to get more than two years from the Yankees or Red Sox, however, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. It also appears that, if he wants to build up bidding for his services, Beltran may need to wait until Shin-Soo Choo leaves the market. Heyman reports that the Tigers, Reds, and Rangers are all very interested in Choo but also see Beltran as an option. While the Mariners are also involved and could be willing to spend big to lure the 36-year-old to the Pacific Northwest, Heyman indicates that the Royals are still perhaps the odds-on favorite to land Beltran out of the crowded field of suitors.
- After signing on for one more go-round with the White Sox, Paul Konerko plans to hang up his spikes afte 2014, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com.
- The Twins' off-season trade talks may have been gummed up by the recent suspension of well-regarded prospect Eddie Rosario, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The 22-year-old Rosario cracks the top ten of the Minnesota prospect list, per Baseball America (subscription required, and recommended), which is particularly impressive given the top-end talent ahead of him. With Brian Dozier emerging as an option at second, Rosario had been the most likely prospect to be dangled as trade bait.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan told Berardino that he sees free agency as the more likely route to add MLB players at this point, even after picking up Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes on the open market. "I don't want to give up any of our players," Ryan said. "I'm not saying we won't make a trade. We might. But if you're going to get a quality starter, it's going to be difficult."
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Franchise icon Paul Konerko will return to the White Sox for a 16th season. The White Sox have officially announced the signing of Konerko to a one-year contract. The LSW Baseball client will reportedly receive a $2.5MM guarantee, though $1MM of that amount will be deferred to 2021.
Recent reports indicated that Konerko, who will turn 38 in early March, would inform the White Sox whether or not he wished to return or retire prior to the start of the Winter Meetings. Konerko posted brilliant numbers with the White Sox even in his age-36 season in 2012, batting .298/.371/.486 with 26 homers, but his production fell off the table in 2013. Konerko mustered just a .244/.313/.355 batting line this past season and also missed nearly three weeks with back pain.
The White Sox signed Cuban sensation Jose Dariel Abreu to a six-year, $68MM contract, clearly indicating that they view him as their everyday first baseman. As such, Konerko figures to shift into more of a part-time role for the White Sox in 2014, unless they're able to move Adam Dunn in a trade. Konerko is said to be open to a reduced role with the Sox. Bruce Levine tweets that Konerko was told he will see some time at DH against left-handed pitchers and will spel Abreu at first base on occasion.
Originally selected with the No. 13 overall pick by the Dodgers in the 1994 draft, Konerko found himself traded to the Reds and then the White Sox in a span of six months. The move proved to be a good one for Chicago; in his 15 seasons with the White Sox, Konerko is a .283/.359/.495 batter with 427 home runs. Konerko's name appears frequently on the White Sox' franchise leaderboard, as he's in the Top 10 in games played (third), hits (third), doubles (third), home runs (second), RBIs (second) and total bases (second). It won't take Konerko long to become Chicago's all-time leader in total bases, as he trails Frank Thomas by just five bases. He's 21 homers shy of Thomas, making it possible (albeit unlikely) that he could claim the franchise lead in that department as well.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that Konerko would return to the White Sox (Twitter link), and MLB.com's Scott Merkin provided the $2.5MM value and deferred payment (via Twitter). Rosenthal added the specifics of the deferment (also on Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
While we try and catch our breath from an insanely busy day here at MLBTradeRumors, let's take a glance at the latest out of the AL and NL Central..
- Sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) that Carlos Beltran still isn't close on a deal with anyone. Earlier today, we heard that Beltran had already received an offer of three years and $48MM from the Royals.
- Free agent Corey Hart has been cleared for baseball activities, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com (via Twitter). The first baseman/outfielder missed all of 2013 with the Brewers thanks to knee injuries.
- Paul Konerko will tell the White Sox if he intends to play in 2014 before the Winter Meetings begin December 9th, a source tells Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com (on Twitter).
- At today's introductory press conference for Ricky Nolasco, Twins GM Terry Ryan confirmed that the club isn't done free agent shopping, tweets Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.
- The Pirates view Mike Napoli as the perfect fit at first base but it still doesn't appear they will lay out the cash needed to sign him, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
White Sox GM Rick Hahn says that the intensity of trade talks has picked up in the past few days, according to Scott Merkin of MLB.com (Twitter links). "We well could have something in the next day or it could take through Orlando (Dec. 9-12) when the logjam sort of breaks,” Hahn said. More out of the AL Central..
- Hahn says he doesn't have new info on Paul Konerko, but his situation has not hamstrung their offseason plans, tweets Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. "I don’t think Paulie wants to play just to be on the bench or a farewell tour. That’s not him..He would want to play only if he felt he had something left in the tank and something to add to a club," Hahn said, according to Merkin (Twitter links).
- Tim Dierkes of MLBTR (on Twitter) hears that multiple teams have expressed interest in Matt Albers. Albers, 31 in January, posted the third best ground ball rate among regular relievers last season for the Indians and throws fairly hard. Tim (link) thinks a two-year deal is possible for the veteran. Albers posted a 3.14 ERA with 5.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 56 appearances in 2013.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan says that he parted with Duke Welker earlier today because he needed a starter like Kris Johnson more than a reliever like Welker, writes MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger. "We were looking for starting pitching," Ryan said. "It doesn't mean we didn't like what we had in Welker."
The White Sox owe it to Paul Konerko to bring him back for a final season in 2014 if the long-time first baseman wishes to keep playing, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune opines. The Sox would have to release or trade Adam Dunn to make room for Konerko with Jose Dariel Abreu now aboard, and while eating Dunn's contract would be expensive, Sullivan argues that Dunn is already a sunk cost and not worth keeping if it means cutting ties with a franchise icon.
Here are some more items from around baseball tonight...
- Chris Young would like to play for the Astros but the free outfielder didn't say if he'd been contacted by the team, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets. Young, a Houston native, has drawn some level of interest from the Red Sox and Mets this winter.
- Also from McTaggart, LaTroy Hawkins said he hasn't been contacted by the Astros this offseason, though the veteran has other "irons in the fire." The Astros are looking for bullpen help and Hawkins has a connection to Houston, having pitched for the club in 2008-09. As many as seven teams, however, have already shown interest in Hawkins, including the Rockies and Mets.
- Dallas Braden tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) that he intends to try out for teams when he increases his stamina. After throwing a perfect game in 2010, Braden made just three starts in 2011 and hasn't pitched since due to a pair of shoulder surgeries. The southpaw elected free agency from the A's following the 2012 season.
- Brian Cashman tells reporters (including The Chicago Sun-Times Gordon Wittenmyer) that he always expected Joe Girardi to return to manage the Yankees, despite the rumors that Girardi would join the Cubs. Wittenmyer believes the Cubs' reported "back-channel communication" to try and woo Girardi "underscored an ongoing disconnect between the Cubs’ baseball and business sides of the operation."
- The qualifying offer may not be the hindrance to some free agents as it appears, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal argues. Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse were last offseason's two infamous examples of how a draft pick compensation tag could hurt a player's market, but MacPherson opines that the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA system projected Bourn and Lohse as worth the contracts they eventually signed with the Indians and Brewers, respectively.
- If the Rockies could somehow get Justin Morneau at a reasonable price, he would make an ideal platoon partner for Michael Cuddyer and Jordan Pacheco, Troy Renck of the Denver Post opines (Sulia link).
- A member of the Yankees baseball operations staff predicts Phil Hughes will sign with an NL West team, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter). The flyball-prone Hughes could be greatly helped by pitching at AT&T Park, Petco Park or Dodger Stadium, though Chase Field or Coors Field aren't good fits. The source says Hughes is a "good fit in Minnesota," and the Twins and Royals are the only teams linked to Hughes so far this offseason.
- Though Tim Hudson is 38 and coming off a nasty broken ankle, a National League talent evaluator still picked the veteran righty as the best risk amongst free agent pitchers who are at least 33 years old, SI.com's Tom Verducci reports. Bartolo Colon, Roy Halladay, Dan Haren and Ryan Vogelsong round out the top five.
The Mariners will interview Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach for their open managerial job, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. Wallach joins Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon, Giants bench coach Ron Wotus, Athletics bench coach Chip Hale and Padres bench coach Rick Renteria as Mariners candidates, and Heyman notes that there may be others. Wallach has also interviewed for the Tigers' managerial job. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Twins remain keenly interested in Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. "We've watched him forever," says Twins vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff. Yoon has battled shoulder issues in 2013, and if the Twins agreed to sign him, they would, of course, want him to take a physical. They would also be much more interested in him as a starter than as a reliever -- Yoon made 13 starts in 2013, but also appeared 17 times out of the bullpen.
- The White Sox have signed Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu, but that doesn't mean Paul Konerko won't return, MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports. "This signing does not preclude us from bringing Paul back," says GM Rick Hahn. "It's October 29. You don't evaluate an Opening Day roster at the end of October." The White Sox plan to talk to Konerko next month.
- The White Sox's signing of Abreu will likely be their only major free agent signing, Merkin writes. "We're not going to rule out any avenue," says Hahn. Nonethleless, he says, "It's probably more likely that trades are next." If the White Sox do re-sign Konerko, they could deal either Adam Dunn or Jeff Keppinger to make room for him, Merkin says. It's unlikely, however, that either player would generate much trade interest unless the White Sox took on plenty of salary.
The Tigers announced today that Miguel Cabrera underwent successful core muscle repair surgery (a.k.a. sports hernia surgery) this morning. The operation was performed by Dr. Bill Meyers in Phialdelphia, and Cabrera's timetable for recovery is expected to be six to eight weeks. The Tigers anticipate that their perennial MVP candidate will be healthy in time for Spring Training. Here's more out of the AL Central...
- At today's press conference to announce the signing of Jose Dariel Abreu, White Sox general manager flatly said that the Abreu signing does not preclude the team from bringing back Paul Konerko in 2014. Hahn added that he spoke with Konerko about the potential of signing Abreu back in September, and Konerko was his first call after they had officially reached an agreement with Abreu.
- Also from the conference, Abreu himself stated (through his translator) that the history of Cuban players finding success in the White Sox organization was an important element for him in choosing to sign with the Sox.
- Abreu's agent, Barry Praver, tells Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago that eight teams made offers to his client, and five of the offers hit $60MM (Twitter link). It's already been reported that the Rockies were surprise contenders, offering $63MM over six years.
- Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press looks at the Twins recent hiring of Larry Corrigan, noting that he is the latest of GM Terry Ryan's former associates to be brought back into the fold. Corrigan had served as a Major League special assignment scout for the Angels but declined a one-year extension, according to Berardino. Ryan has also brought former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky back to the Minnesota front office as a special assistant. The three men were at the helm for the Twins from 1995-2005 and played a large role in building the successful core that brought the Twins to prominence in the 2000s. Corrigan has spent more than two decades with the Twins in the past, signing both Torii Hunter and LaTroy Hawkins.
The Fielding Bible released its list of the best defensive players in all baseball, and one of only two back-to-back names is Alex Gordon of the Royals. (Of course, the other -- Yadier Molina -- has accumulated six total nods.) Elsewhere in the AL Central ...
- First baseman Paul Konerko is apparently unsure of how to interpret the White Sox' signing of Jose Dariel Abreu, He said he doesn't "know what the story is behind that" -- referring to Abreu's long-term deal -- as reported by Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). A meeting between player and team has yet to be put on the schedule, according to Kane.
- Meanwhile, Abreu's deal has seen mixed reactions. Count Dan Farnsworth of Fangraphs in favor of the deal: he predicts that Abreu will be one of the game's 25 best hitters, making him well worth his contract.
- The Indians will "almost certainly" make a qualifying offer to starter Ubaldo Jimenez, says Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Echoing other recent reports, Bastian says that the team would like to retain him on a one-year deal in the QO range, but will not be interested if his price tag approaches the $35MM given the similarly situated Tim Lincecum. While opinions have varied as to whether Lincecum's deal will have a real impact on the open market, it could have a fairly direct bearing on Jimenez since it takes one competitor out of the free agent supply.
- Bastian also opines that the Indians will most likely shop for a mid-tier rotation piece while aiming to extend Justin Masterson. MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth recently previewed the Tribe's offseason, discussing the internal rotation options and noting that the club could well need a replacement for Jimenez.
- Brad Ausmus has interviewed for the Tigers' managerial opening, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports via Twitter. For more details, see this article from John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press.
On the surface, the White Sox's signing of Jose Dariel Abreu to a monster six-year, $68MM deal might have signaled the end of Paul Konerko's tenure in the Windy City. However, General Manager Rick Hahn said yesterday on a conference call that the veteran could still return to the team next season, writes Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.
“(We’ll) talk through what Paul is feeling and how he wants to handle his future as well as potentially the role he could conceivably play on the 2014 White Sox,” Hahn said. “Those conversations haven’t taken place yet and when they do we we’ll handle them the way we have (before) which is open and honestly and internally and not publicly.”
Konerko posted an uncharacteristically low .244/.313/.355 slash line in 2013 and missed nearly an entire month with back troubles. The 37-year-old, who has six All-Star selections to his credit, posted a career low of 12 home runs last season. Many speculated that 2013 would be Konerko's final season, but the slugger sounds open to returning to the White Sox on a part-time basis.
The season ended Sunday for 19 of baseball's 30 teams, many of which feature players who will not be back in 2014. Here are some notes on players whose careers might (or might not) be over.
- Rockies great Todd Helton's illustrious career ended in Los Angeles, Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports. Dodgers broadcaster recorded a tribute to Helton that played on the scoreboard before the game, and he received a standing ovation for his last plate appearance. "The last at-bat, I got a little emotional, but other than that, it's Sept. 29th and I'm ready to go home," Helton says. Helton finishes his 17-year career with 369 home runs.
- Nationals manager Davey Johnson leaves the game with a 1372-1071 career record, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Johnson will continue on with the Nationals as a senior adviser, although he's not expected to play a strong role in the organization.
- Veteran lefty Darren Oliver ended his two-decade career with a perfect inning for the Blue Jays on Sunday, MLB.com's Evan Peaslee reports. "20 years -- very few guys get to do that," Jays manager John Gibbons says. "Longevity in this business is hard to come by, but to do it for that long and be that effective until the very end that speaks volumes." Oliver, 42, also pitched for the Cardinals, Red Sox, Rockies, Marlins, Astros, Mets and Angels, and he had three separate stints with the Rangers. He finishes his career with a 4.51 ERA, 5.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 over 1,915 2/3 innings.
- White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko still hasn't announced whether he's retiring, but he left Sunday's game against the Royals to applause, reports MLB.com's Scott Merkin. After a tough .245/.314/.356 season, it's unclear whether Konerko will be back, and if so, if that might be in a part-time role. Merkin notes that Konerko think for a month this offseason about whether or not to return in 2014. If he does want to return, the White Sox will have to decide whether to re-sign him.