Paul Konerko Rumors
The Twins face a number of roster decisions as the season draws to a close, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes. Many of the players the club added to the 40-man in 2012 ahead of the Rule 5 draft saw significant time in the major leagues this year. Alex Wimmers, a first-round pick in 2010 who returned from Tommy John surgery in July, will be subject to the Rule 5 if he's not added in November, Berardino notes. Here's more from the AL's central division:
- Twins GM Terry Ryan wouldn't hesitate to sign a player coming off of a PED-related suspension, as long as the player had served his time, Berardino tweets.
- Ryan says that he'll be back as GM next season and that a decision on Ron Gardenhire's future is coming soon, writes Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN. Sources tell Mackey they believe the Twins and Gardenhire have discussed one- or two-year contract possibilities.
- Gardenhire and Rick Anderson are among the winningest manager-pitching coach pairings in major league history, Berardino writes.
- Berardino notes that Glen Perkins won't be able to trigger the $150,000 bonus in his contract for 55 games finished. Perkins entered today having finished 52 games. The left-hander will earn about $2.98MM in salary and bonuses this year, and is on track to make around $3.99MM next season.
- Paul Konerko spoke at length with reporters about his future with the White Sox, and MLB.com's Scott Merkin has the details in a post on his blog. Konerko says he hasn't formally broached the subject with the club, but that he'd be willing to return to the Sox in a part-time role.
White Sox GM Rick Hahn says manager Robin Ventura will be back in 2014, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports. It's unclear, however, what will happen with the team's coaching staff. "I don't think it’s fair for anyone in uniform for me to single out individual coaches or individual players at this time, while we’re still playing, and say, 'This guy fits going forward,' or, 'That guy doesn’t fit going forward,'" says Hahn, referring to both coaches and players. Ventura wants his coaches to come back next year, Hayes says. Here are more notes from the South Side.
- First baseman Paul Konerko hasn't decided what he'll do in 2014, Hayes tweets, noting that Konerko might consider returning to the White Sox as a part-time player. Konerko reportedly recently told friends he wanted to play in 2014. Konerko finds himself at the tail end of a miserable 2013 season in which he's hit .248/.316/.361 while playing poor defense. He becomes a free agent this fall. Hayes does note that if Konerko were to come back in 2014, it would be his last season.
- Hahn says the White Sox will approach this offseason with the long term in mind, Scot Gregor of the Chicago Daily Herald writes. "[W]e're not going to do anything that's simply going to be a band-aid approach that's simply going to move the arrow slightly upward for 2014 so that I can sit here a year from now and tell you, 'Hey, we won seven more games, so we're headed the right direction,'" says Hahn.
For the first time since 1992, the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to the postseason. The Buccos and Reds each clinched playoff spots tonight, though it remains to be seen if those two clubs will face each other in the Wild Card game, or if one of them can catch the Cardinals for the NL Central lead. Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis all won on Monday, so the Cards retained their two-game lead.
Here's the latest from both the NL and AL Central divisions...
- Bruce Chen loves pitching for the Royals and wants to re-sign the team this winter, the veteran southpaw tells Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. Chen said that he hasn't yet sat down with agent Scott Boras to determine his market and that the Royals "haven’t talked to me" about a new contract, but Chen said he hopes to pitch for at least another four or five seasons. The 36-year-old has a 3.13 ERA, 5.7 K/9 and 2.30 K/BB ratio in 109 1/3 IP this season, making 13 starts and 19 appearances out of the bullpen. Dutton shared some more Royals items earlier today.
- Paul Konerko won't decide on his playing future until after the season, a source tells ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine. Konerko has been toying with the idea of retirement all season, though he has reportedly told friends he intends to play in 2014.
- Norichika Aoki earned a $250K bonus upon making his 140th start of the season tonight, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports. This ups Aoki's salary to $1.5MM for the season, and he can earn $0.5875MM for playing in one more game this year. The Brewers have already gotten a huge bargain from Aoki's original two-year, $2.5MM contract and they hold a $1.5MM team option on the outfielder for 2014.
- In other Brewers contract news from McCalvy, right-hander Kyle Lohse will earn a $350K bonus on Wednesday when he retires his first batter and reaches the 190-inning mark for the season.
- John Axford is "open to discussing something with the Cardinals" about a new contract this offseason but for now is just looking forward to the postseason, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Axford has posted a 1.93 ERA in 9 1/3 IP since joining the Cards three weeks ago but he could be a non-tender candidate due to his high arbitration number. Axford is arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and will earn a raise on his $5MM salary, plus he has two more arb years remaining after that as a Super Two player.
Here's a look at the latest out of the Windy City..
- Theo Epstein told reporters, including Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, that even though manager Dale Sveum has done a “remarkable job” maintaining a good clubhouse over two rough seasons, no decision has been made on his future beyond this season. Epstein says that the skipper was never being evaluated on wins and losses this season but rather the development of young players and other factors.
- Epstein went on to explain that while he'll be looking to have a more productive lineup in 2014, he won't lean on the open market to make that happen, Muskat writes. “I don’t think we’re going to get to where we need to be through free agency for the short term, honestly,” Epstein said. “Given the needs that we have and where we are and the likely price tags on the market, I don’t think we’ll have the ability to add multiple impact pieces in free agency."
- White Sox veteran Paul Konerko still refuses to address his future beyond this season, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. Konerko has reportedly told friends that he plans on coming back in 2014, however.
Closer is "the most overvalued position in baseball," Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes, an opinion shared by no less an authority than Hall-of-Famer closer Dennis Eckersley. Kepner notes that teams often err in signing closers to expensive contracts and then end up using replacement closers that were already on their rosters in the first place. “I don’t want to take away anything from what I did, but it’s not as tough as you think," Eckersley said. “You could groom somebody to do it who’s on the staff, if you manage it the right way."
While the agents of this year's free agent stoppers compose their counter-arguments, here are some more news items from around baseball...
- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts isn't planning any major payroll increases in the near future, telling Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that, "You can’t just throw money at the problem. We have to build the organization from the ground up. And that’s what we’re doing right now."
- Chris Perez will be shopped by the Indians this offseason, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer predicts, and Pluto thinks Perez will be pitching elsewhere in 2014. Perez will earn a raise from his current $7.3MM salary in the arbitration process and Pluto feels the Tribe will want to move him rather than pay the closer that much. Perez's solid season could help his trade value, as Pluto notes that the Indians found only an "iffy" market for Perez when they attempted to deal him last winter.
- "In a strict, WAR sense, [Kendrys Morales] may not compute to be worth $14 million or more per season. But the real cost the Mariners will have to weigh is what it would be like without him," The Seattle Times' Geoff Baker writes. While Morales has slumped lately, Baker argues that the M's are still short of big bats and thus need to at least extend Morales a qualifying offer.
- Paul Konerko answered a simple "No" to questions about any decisions on his playing future, MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports. We heard yesterday that Konerko was telling friends he wanted to keep playing in 2014, but the White Sox captain reiterated his stance that he would wait until a later date to make a decision.
- Fangraphs' Dave Cameron looks at which free agent hitters should or shouldn't receive qualifying offers from their current teams this winter.
- Neal Huntington would win a fictitious "MLB Comeback Executive of the Year" award, MLB.com's Tom Singer writes. The criticism faced by the Pirates GM has turned to praise as his recent moves have the Bucs on the cusp of their first playoff berth since 1992.
- Despite Ryan Vogelsong's tough season, Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com (via Twitter) thinks the Giants will pick up his $6.5MM team option for 2014 if the righty remains healthy. Vogelsong has a 5.49 ERA in 14 starts, but entering tonight's action, Vogelsong had posted a 2.93 ERA over five starts since returning from the disabled list.
For most teams that aren't playoff-bound in September, the talk surrounding the club is centered on the team's future and young talent. However, the focus for White Sox fans in the last couple of days have been on a pair of veterans who may call it quits following this season.
Paul Konerko has hinted all season that 2013 could be his final season as he battles through a multitude of injuries. The 37-year-old's age has undeniably been showing this season as he has a .244/.314/.358 slash line, his worst in any season as a full time major leaguer. However, he's been telling friends as of late that he wants to continue playing and return to the White Sox in 2014.
Meanwhile, teammate Adam Dunn told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he could conceivably walk away from the game, which is surprising for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, Dunn is owed $15MM next season and it's rare to see anyone walk away from that kind of cash. Secondly, Dunn has been hitting quite well over the last couple of months and is even hitting for average. The veteran may be frustrated with the White Sox's season overall, but he can't beat himself up for his individual performance. For what it's worth, he seemed to walk his comments back a bit earlier today.
“Apparently everybody is retiring,” Ventura said of talk that Konerko and Dunn could call it quits, according to Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. “When you’re frustrated that probably comes up a lot, but I don’t see it happening. I don’t see Dunner going anywhere. I think those are just things you talk about. He’s probably at a point in his career where you can bring the subject up about when is the right time, when isn’t, but I fully expect him to be in spring training with us.”
Ultimately, how do you see things playing out for the White Sox vets?
There was talk heading into this season that veteran Paul Konerko could make 2013 his final season, but it sounds as though he's not ready to walk away from the game just yet. The first baseman/DH is telling friends that he definitely wants to return to the White Sox in 2014 and believes that he can still be productive, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter).
Konerko, 37, is in the midst of his worst offensive season since becoming a full-time major leaguer in 1999. In 440 plate appearances, Konerko has a .244/.314/.358 slash line with ten homers. No one would blame the veteran for moving on to something else after winning a World Series ring, being named to six All-Star teams, and earning upwards of $127MM over the course of his career, but he seems intent on signing a new contract with the White Sox after his current one expires this winter.
Recently, teammate Adam Dunn said that there was "zero chance" Konerko would retire. Ironically, we learned last night Dunn himself is at least thinking about retirement, even though he's owed $15MM next season.
Happy birthday to Hall-of-Famer Paul Molitor, who turns 57 years old today. Though Molitor only spent the final three of his 21 seasons with an AL Central team, the St. Paul native has been closely tied to the Twins franchise and currently serves as a special assistant within the organization. Here's the latest from around the division...
- The Twins don't have any trade talks percolating about Justin Morneau right now, Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan tells Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I can put that out there,” Ryan said. “I don’t see [a trade], but there is always a possibility." Morneau has cleared waivers and has revived his trade value after hitting .303/.326/.618 in 92 PA in August. The former AL MVP has drawn varying levels of interest from the Yankees and Orioles in recent days.
- Ryan added that "I don’t think you have to worry about" Glen Perkins being traded. The closer drew attention before the July 31st deadline, but it's hard to see how Minnesota could get Perkins through waivers without another club blocking the move.
- The Twins GM also covers a number of topics with Hartman, including his own future with the team. Ryan said he's still enjoying all aspects of his job, except for the Twins' poor record on the field.
- Adam Dunn thinks there is "zero chance" his White Sox teammate Paul Konerko will retire after this season, Dunn tells Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link). Konerko has hinted at retirement throughout the season, as this is the last year of his White Sox contract and the veteran has struggled with injuries and a .662 OPS in 393 PA.
- The Indians recently gathered several front office members to discuss September promotions and any possible August trades, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. "We're looking at opportunities to improve, internally, externally, whatever those might be," GM Chris Antonetti said. "I continue to like the group of guys we have, but if there is an opportunity to improve, we'll pursue it."
Paul Konerko has been placed on waivers, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The White Sox slugger can say no to any deal thanks to his ten-and-five rights and is likely to clear waivers. The waiver claim period will expire tomorrow, Rosenthal adds in a second tweet.
The 37-year-old is owed roughly $3.25MM for the remainder of the season. Konerko owns a slash line of .243/.306/.359 with nine homers in 87 games this season, a significant dropoff from his usual production.
It's possible that this will be Konerko's final go-round as he is on an expiring contract, dealing with back issues, and has stated that he doesn't want to stay in the game "just to chase some numbers."
Let's have a look around the American League:
- Angels starter Tommy Hanson has been optioned to Triple-A to make room for Jason Vargas, tweets MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. Hanson came to the team last November in a deal that sent reliever Jordan Walden to the Braves. While Walden has prospered in Atlanta, Hanson sports an unsightly 5.59 ERA over 67 2/3 innings and has seen his strikeout rate fall from a career-high 9.8 K/9 to 6.9 K/9 this season. Hanson received $3.725MM in 2013, his first year of arbitration eligibility. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted in late May that Hanson was not a likely non-tender candidate, but could price himself into a trade. At this stage, while he won't likely command a major raise, it is reasonable to ask whether Hanson will be tendered a contract by the Angels.
- The Mariners could try to lure Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to Seattle, writes FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. The M's have a shade over $33MM on the books for next season, a young core of low-cost regulars already in the stable, and a hole in the middle of the outfield. A return to the Pacific Northwest for the Oregonian Ellsbury could make sense for both sides, Rosenthal suggests. In the midst of a nice bounce-back season at the age of 29, Ellsbury looks to have a strong hold on the number two spot in Dierkes's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.
- The Orioles have discussed bringing back Mark Reynolds and will continue to do so, says manager Buck Showalter. As MASN's Roch Kubatko tweets, Showalter did note that "we like our roster." Reynolds would cost nothing more than a roster spot and the league minimum salary, however, since he was placed on release waivers by the Indians earlier today.
- This could be the last season for White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, writes Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald. Konerko has suffered through a down year (for himself and his team), has an expiring contract, and has dealt with lower back issues. Gregor notes that Konerko has previously indicated no interest in holding on "just to chase some numbers," and guesses that he'll ultimately decide to hang it up this fall.