Paul Konerko Rumors
Some news from the desert, courtesy of The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro...
- The Diamondbacks' offer of a three-year, $30MM contract to Paul Konerko would have put them over their payroll threshold, but they couldn't pass up the chance to get "a star-caliber hitter at a possible hometown discount." Arizona CEO Derrick Hall tells Piecoro that the team had a legitimate chance to sign Konerko before he eventually re-signed with Chicago.
- The Reds were interested in Gerardo Parra and the D'Backs in Chris Heisey, but a potential deal of the two outfielders was scuttled because the Reds want to keep Heisey.
- Derrek Lee "is said to have interest in" playing in Arizona. We've heard that the D'Backs have had interest in Lee, but Piecoro thinks the first baseman "might be a longshot financially."
- The D'Backs won't be going after any pitching in the short term, following the acquisition of Rule 5 draft pick Joe Paterson.
- The team did not offer Carlos Pena or Paul Konerko contracts before the first basemen signed in Chicago, according to president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.
- It's likely that the team's shortstop will be Hardy, Jason Bartlett, Brendan Ryan or Cesar Izturis, MacPhail said. The Padres appear to be close to a deal for Bartlett, which would limit the Orioles' options.
- MacPhail says the club has expressed interest in a number of DH types. Vladimir Guerrero, Hideki Matsui and Jim Thome are believed to be among the team's targets.
- The team, which selects fourth in tomorrow's Rule 5 draft, is considering a number of players.
- There are no updates on Kevin Gregg, but Zrebiec reported yesterday that the team has offered the former Blue Jays closer a two-year deal.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post hears (on Twitter) that Nick Green could end up in Baltimore.
The White Sox reached an agreement with first baseman Paul Konerko on a three-year deal, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The deal is worth $37.5MM, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. The contract includes deferred money, as outlined by MLB.com's Scott Merkin. The contract has now been officially announced by the White Sox.
Konerko gets a slight raise, but still falls short of Adam Dunn's new deal with the Sox. Konerko is represented by Craig Landis of LSW Baseball. GM Kenny Williams talked about moving on yesterday, but chairman Jerry Reinsdorf got involved. Considering Konerko a special case, the Diamondbacks offered him three years and $30MM. Landis said Konerko was very tempted by the offer.
Konerko, 35 in March, led all free agents with 39 home runs in 2010. He hit .312/.393/.584 in 631 plate appearances, perhaps the best season of his career. He's been Chicago's first baseman since '99.
Yesterday the talks between the White Sox and longtime first baseman Paul Konerko hit a snag, with GM Kenny Williams talking about moving on. Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf still may step in and make it work, but here's the latest...
- Yahoo's Steve Henson calls a Konerko-White Sox reunion "dead in the water for the time being." He suggests Jayson Werth's signing caused Konerko to raise his demands as a ripple effect.
- Rival teams bidding on Konerko are convinced he's returning to the White Sox, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
10:26pm: White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf still wants the deal to happen and will work to resolve things by tomorrow afternoon, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
10:00pm: White Sox GM Kenny Williams told Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune that he’s prepared to move on without Konerko and address other needs. "There's no deadline, but we're going to make the first best deal we can," Williams said. The White Sox had plans to discuss alternatives this evening.
5:25pm: There's still "pretty decent optimism" for a deal, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Konerko's agent is pushing for more than the White Sox want to commit.
4:14pm: There have been "big changes" in the talks, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter links). The Konerko ship may be sailing, Cowley writes. Even though talks have hit a snag, it does seem that there's a fit here.
12:50pm: The White Sox are not the only team to make a multiyear offer to Konerko, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. No deal is expected today.
10:59am: There could be a snag in the Konerko talks, tweets Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, with the player's agent insisting on $15MM per year.
7:11am: We've heard Paul Konerko's name connected to a few teams over the past several days, including the White Sox, Orioles, Rangers, and Diamondbacks. According to this tweet from SI's Jon Heyman, however, the White Sox are "in the driver's seat" for Konerko.
The Rangers will instead be focusing their efforts on signing Cliff Lee, and Heyman quotes a friend of Konerko who says "no way" on the possibility of him going to the Orioles. The Diamondbacks don't have enough money to win the bidding, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
Yesterday, we heard that talks between the White Sox and Konerko were going well, and that he could be in line for a $12.5MM annual salary, possibly over three years. The 34-year-old Konerko enjoyed perhaps the best season of his career, hitting .312/.393/.584 with 39 home runs. He finished fifth in the American League MVP voting.
Paul Konerko led all free agents with 39 home runs in 2010. The White Sox are considered the favorites, but the Rangers and Orioles are also in the mix. Here's the latest on the first baseman:
- Talks between Konerko and the White Sox seem to be going well, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (Twitter link). Konerko will likely get $12.5MM per season, potentially for three years.
- The White Sox are awaiting a response from Konerko and agent Craig Landis, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- The White Sox will continue to have conversations with Konerko's representatives, according to Scott Reifert of the White Sox (on Twitter). GM Kenny Williams is neither optimistic nor pessimistic about reaching a deal.
- White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, asked if he expects to sign Konerko by week's end, replied, "I hope so." He also said Konerko "belongs in Chicago." Jon Paul Morosi reported the quotes on Twitter.
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers "had extended talks" with Konerko, reports Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports. However, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the D'Backs have had "virtually no dialogue with Konerko." Konerko lives in the Phoenix area during the offseason. Arizona's first round pick is protected, so they'd give up their second rounder to sign him. The supplementary round is especially large this year, so second round picks will be pretty far down.
MONDAY, 1:15am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that Monday's meeting will involve Konerko's agent and assistant GM Rick Hahn. With the Orioles viewed as the only other serious suitor for Konerko, there's a "strong feeling" the White Sox will get a deal done as early as this week.
SUNDAY, 9:29pm: Reinsdorf will do anything he can to re-sign Konerko, a source tells Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com.
1:42pm: A deal between Konerko and the White Sox will probably happen but nothing is imminent, sources tell Buster Olney of ESPN (via Twitter).
1:34pm: Konerko won't be meeting with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf tomorrow, only his agent Craig Landis will, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal believes that the two sides will reach an accord, though they're not close just yet.
Re-signing Konerko would cap off an incredibly busy week for the White Sox who also reeled in Adam Dunn and retained A.J. Pierzynski. On Friday GM Kenny Williams told reporters that both Dunn and Pierzynski will accept deferred payment on their newly minted contracts, giving the club the ability to make Konerko a solid offer.
5:47pm: MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan says that the Rangers have just "kicked the tires" on Crawford, but are "far more in" on Paul Konerko. The team obviously likes both players, but they feel Konerko is the better fit given their needs.
1:49pm: The Rangers are in on free agent outfielder Carl Crawford and the interest is mutual, according to Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter). The Angels and the Yankees are also of particular interest to Crawford, Heyman tweets.
If Texas were to land Crawford, they would have to creatively re-align their outfield. Crawford would presumably take over in left field, likely making Josh Hamilton the full-time center fielder. Hamilton's career -6.0 UZR/150 in center field indicates that he's below average at that position.
Earlier today, ESPN's Buster Olney surmised that the BoSox will still have enough money after the Adrian Gonzalez trade to go after someone like Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth. However, Heyman believes that recent events make Werth to the Red Sox a likely scenario.
- Chris Tillman's name has been mentioned in connection with the Mark Reynolds trade rumors, tweets Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic thinks the D'Backs "seem to like" David Hernandez more, but Hernandez would be just one piece of what's likely to be a pitcher-centric package (Twitter links).
- The O's are one of three teams known to be exploring a Reynolds deal, but they're the ones with "the heaviest interest" in the third baseman according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. The Blue Jays and Padres, in fact, "strongly deny" that they're even pursuing Reynolds.
- "Some progress has been made" between the Orioles and Koji Uehara, reports Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. The club has been keeping in touch with Uehara's agent and Zrebiec says team officials "feel pretty good" about their ability to re-sign the reliever.
- Zrebiec also notes that Baltimore has been in discussions about a number of free agent relievers and have contacted the representatives of Grant Balfour, Jesse Crain, Scott Downs, Brian Fuentes, Matt Guerrier and Kerry Wood. The O's "have at least one offer out" to one of these pitchers, Zrebiec says.
- Baltimore has contacted Bobby Jenks' agent, reports Zrebiec in another piece.
- From that same article, Zrebiec writes "the next person I speak to in the organization who feels the O’s have a shot at Konerko would be the first." The Orioles' interest in Konerko is "largely overblown" and most insiders feel Konerko will re-sign with the White Sox.
Some items to wrap up the week...
- The Pirates were close to a trade for J.J. Hardy on Thursday night, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Pittsburgh is known to have an interest in Hardy and could still work out a deal given that the Twins tendered Hardy a contract.
- There is "mutual interest" between Nick Punto and the Indians, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. (Twitter link) The two sides will continue their talks during the winter meetings.
- Yahoo Sports' Big League Stew blog collects some of the Washington media's reaction to Adam Dunn leaving town, and it isn't very positive.
- It's looking increasingly unlikely that Arizona will trade Justin Upton, but if Upton is moved, it won't be to Florida, writes Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Rodriguez says the Marlins are looking for a left-handed bench bat and possibly a left-handed reliever, though the club is unlikely to re-sign Will Ohman.
- Phillies assistant GM Scott Proefrock tells Fox Sports Radio's Jim Bowden (Twitter link) that his club isn't interested in bringing back Cliff Lee. "That ship has sailed," Proefrock said.
- Erik Bedard tells Larry Larue of the Tacoma News Tribune that he was offered a guaranteed deal from another club but turned it down to sign a non-guaranteed contract with Seattle.
- The Mariners "are becoming a West Coast version of the Orioles, a place top-tier free agents avoid because the stench of losing is overwhelming," writes Yahoo's Steve Henson in his winter meetings preview.