White Sox

Konerko, Putz decline White Sox arbitration offer

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Konerko, Putz decline White Sox arbitration offer

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
11:53 a.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com
The only suspense surrounding Paul Konerkos decision to decline arbitration was when the official word would actually break.

That word finally came late Tuesday, long after reliever J.J. Putz also declined the Chicago White Sox offer of arbitration.

The logic to such a move from Konerkos standpoint is solid -- coming off a near-career year, the longtime South Side first sacker wasnt going to take a one-year deal from andor limit himself to the White Sox. Declining arbitration means that Konerko keeps his options open in every way: length of contract, total salary, and where he suits up.

Ominous in his late-season forum on pending free agency, Konerko noted that the White Sox could make the highest offer to him and he might still opt to play elsewhere. Curiously, he spent more time discussing the White Sox competitiveness within the division than he did an ideal future salary.

Konerko just ended a five-year, 60 million deal signed in the afterglow of the 2005 World Series win, choosing to re-up with the White Sox in spite of more generous offers from the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles. That postseason, Konerko was named the MVP of the American League Championship Series, a series win that propelled the club to its first World Series in 46 years. At age 34 in 2010, he hit 39 homers and drove in 89 runs, posting a .977 OPS and finishing fifth in AL MVP voting -- ensuring that he will receive offers comparable to the 12 million salary he earned.

Several factors are working against the White Sox re-signing their right-handed slugger, beyond his hinting late in the season he had at least one other city besides Chicago in which hed like to play. With the possible loss of catcher A.J. Pierzynski tilting the White Sox lineup even farther to the right, the club is in desperate need of left-handed hitting, something still in ample supply on the first basedesignated hitter market this offseason. Konerko is also highly unlikely to duplicate his 2010 season as his career winds down -- stats guru Bill James is already predicting a 120-point OPS tumble for the first baseman in 2011. Konerkos defensive skills are in decline at a time when the White Sox are placing a higher priority on solid fielding. And finally, the White Sox again have limited funds in which to pursue free agents -- even if Konerko was the teams first choice to add this offseason, any raise on a 12 million salary -- in fact, any deal in excess of 10 million -- would be cost prohibitive to the White Sox.

Finally, the plain fact is that for all his heroism for the Pale Hose, Konerko only outpaced his multimillion-dollar deal in 2006 and 2010, per FanGraphs value analysis. Over the course of his recent contract, Konerko was paid more than he was worth for his performance on the field. Clearly, Konerko offers assets beyond between the lines, evidenced by his five-year captaincy and continual mentorship of White Sox youngsters. Whether thats worth the golden parachute that could be tucked into whatever contract he would re-sign with the club is an elusive question to answer.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

This week, we’re profiling some of the biggest names on the free-agent market and taking a look at what kind of fits they are for the White Sox.

The White Sox need starting pitching, so why not bring in a guy with a Cy Young Award sitting on his mantle?

Dallas Keuchel is one of the two biggest names on the starting-pitching market this winter, along with Patrick Corbin, who will get more attention — and likely more dollars — because he's two years younger. But Keuchel's the guy with the track record, the AL Cy Young winner in 2015 (when he was also a top-five MVP finisher), a two-time All Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and the owner of a 3.28 ERA over the past five seasons, during which he helped the Houston Astros transition from rebuilding to one of baseball's perennial contenders. You might have heard something about them winning the World Series in 2017.

It's true that things have been somewhat up and down for Keuchel since his Cy Young win. After posting a 2.48 ERA with a career-high 216 strikeouts in 33 starts during that 2015 season, he had a 4.55 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 26 starts in 2016, then a 2.90 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 23 starts in 2017 and a 3.74 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 34 starts last season. But three times in the last five years he's finished with an ERA under 3.00. In other words, he's pretty darn good.

How might he fit with the White Sox? Well, in terms of whether or not he lines up with their long-term plans. Keuchel's older than Corbin, but it's not like he's old. He'll be 31 on Opening Day 2019, and a long-term deal, which he's expected to fetch, would keep him around for another planned transition from rebuilding to contention. Keuchel — a veteran who's accomplished a lot already, including putting a World Series ring on his finger — could be viewed as a Jon Lester type for these rebuilding White Sox, a big name who buys into the front office's long-term plan and helps make those plans become reality.

And there's no doubt the White Sox are in the market for starting pitching this winter. Michael Kopech is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and the White Sox decided not to pick up James Shields' option for 2019. That leaves two holes in the starting rotation. An addition like Keuchel would be a long-term one, which means the White Sox would opt to make him a safety net for their still-developing fleet of young pitchers and choose not to roll the dice on a homegrown starting staff for 2020. However, if they're confident in a quintet of Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease, then maybe they opt for a couple one-year fill-ins in 2019. Keuchel would not be a one-year fill-in.

Keuchel could also fill the role vacated by Shields, a veteran who could help bring along the young guys in an off-the-field mentor role. His experience going through the dark days of a rebuild — he was a member of Astros teams that lost a combined 310 games from 2012 to 2014 — and coming out the other end a world champ would also figure to be of value.

Of course, the White Sox wouldn't be alone in a pursuit of Keuchel, if they were interested. Thanks to Clayton Kershaw signing a new contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he's one of the two biggest names on the market when it comes to starting pitchers. The White Sox would likely have to go through the same bidding war and pitch of planned future success they would with other big names like Corbin, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

But there's no doubt Keuchel would be an upgrade to this rotation in 2019 and could provide plenty of value for years beyond.

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

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USA TODAY

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again.

The Worldwide Leader in Sports has made a habit of failing to remember the South Siders in recent years, most notably forgetting (on multiple occasions) that the White Sox did in fact win the 2005 World Series.

It happened enough times that A.J. Pierzynski had some opinions about it.

This time, the omission came in an effort to illustrate how good Mike Trout is, with ESPN researcher Paul Hembekides listing baseball players who appeared in the top four in MVP voting three or more times. Trout, the Los Angeles Angels superstar, has already done it seven times, and boy that is terrific.

But Hembekides left someone out. And that someone let him hear about it.

You tell 'em, Frank.

Yes, the Big Hurt finished in the top four of the AL MVP vote on six separate occasions: 1991 (third), 1993 (first), 1994 (first), 1997 (third), 2000 (second) and 2006 (fourth, while playing for the Oakland Athletics).

ESPN's blind spot for the White Sox doesn't end up meaning much of anything, though it's amusing that they've now managed to leave out a relatively recent World Series champion and a relatively recent first-ballot Hall of Famer.

We all make mistakes. But it's a little funny that ESPN's are, repeatedly, White Sox related.