White Sox, Dunn agree to four-year deal
The last time Paul Konerko was on the free-agent market - right after the White Sox won the 2005 World Series - general manager Kenny Williams landed Jim Thome in a trade from the Phillies.
A huge Thome fan, Konerko wound up passing on better offers from the Angels and Orioles and came back to the Sox with a five-year, $60 million contract.
Is history about to repeat itself?
That remains to be seen, but the White Sox apparently are trying to entice Konerko with the addition of another left-handed power hitter - Adam Dunn.
Although general manager Kenny Williams would not confirm the Sox signed the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Dunn to a four-year, $56 million contract, he didn't deny the rumor.
"Why don't we do this ...," Williams said Thursday. "Why don't we talk about that (Friday) at 2 o'clock at the ballpark (U.S. Cellular Field)."
Williams did answer a key question on the conference call with reporters: Is there enough money in the budget for Dunn and Konerko, who has an estimated market value of three years for $45 million?
"Not only is there room for both of them," Williams said, "it's the ideal fit."
Dunn certainly seems to be an ideal fit in the White Sox' hitter-friendly park.
The 31-year-old first baseman hit 38 home runs for the Washington Nationals this season while batting .260 and driving in 103 runs.
Over the last eight years, spent with the Nationals, Diamondbacks and Reds, Dunn has averaged 40 homers and 101 RBI.
Dunn and Konerko would make quite a one-two punch in the middle of the Sox' lineup, but the latter is intent on exploring the free-agent market as next week's winter meetings in Orlando approach.
Williams said he's tried reaching out to Konerko this off-season, but he understands the process.
"We respect Paul's decision and the decision of Craig Landis, his agent, to take Paul through the winter meetings and flush out all his offers," Williams said. "We are trying to be patient and respectful, but also mindful of losing opportunities for another player if we were not able to bring back Paulie.
"One thing Paul and I talked about last season was remaining respectful of one another's position and remaining mindful there is a process that goes on. I've never been accused of being patient, but I have the responsibility to the team and the city to put the best club on the field."
Shortly after the season ended, Williams approached White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf with two plans.
One was to go young with players like Gordon Beckham, Chris Sale and Brent Morel. The other was to add proven performers like Dunn while retaining Konerko and another key free agent, catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
"You see the obvious decision," Williams said, alluding to the Dunn signing. "It's a difficult challenge to try to find the revenue to support the payroll, and we are out on a limb a little bit."
Should Konerko team up with Dunn, the Sox figure to be competitive in the AL Central. That should bring more fans to the Cell, something Williams is counting on.
"We just didn't want to be in the middle," Williams said. "The decision was that if we were going all in, we were going all in. It's been difficult to find the revenue to support the payroll, but we think it's important to make a significant addition."