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Konerko Sweepstakes Begin

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Nov 11, 2005 8:24PM

Friday marked the opening of free agency for Major League Baseball. Coming off a 40 Homer, 100 RBI regular season and a huge post-season capped by the White Sox World Series Championship, Paul Konerko is one of the hottest commodities on the market. As soon as the ball hit his mitt for the final out, questions came about whether the Sox could retain their offensive star.

2005_11_sports_konerko.jpgWhile Konerko personified the no-ego, play-hard type of player that propelled the Sox to their first title in 88 years, will that all change when it comes to a new contract?

During the playoffs, his father commented to the media that his son intended to test the free agent market. And while the Sox made at least one offer (rumored to be 4 years, $52 million) to Konerko while they retained exclusive negotiating rights, no deal was struck.

So now that Konerko's on the market, what will happen? There are a number of teams who would love to add his bat and leadership to their team. Among them are the deep-pocketed Yankees, Red Sox and Angels -- the 3 AL teams who came up short in the playoffs this year. And while demand for a player of Konerko's caliber is high, the supply of premier free agents is down this off-season. Will a bidding war develop for Paulie? How high can and will the White Sox go to retain their star?

The Trib's Rick Morrisey weighs in on the situation, saying that Konerko just may not be worth the money some teams might throw his way. Would somebody really offer him $75 mil over 5 years?!? Chicagoist isn't so sure the bidding will go that high. Not after A Rod's monster contract hogtied the Rangers and Carlos Beltran -- last year's post-season hero -- didn't perform to expectations after landing a huge deal from the Mets. Begrudgingly, we have to admit that kind of coin would be too much for the Sox to pay Konerko and still be able to keep together a team that can continue to compete.

On the other hand, we just don't see Paulie as the kind of guy who bases his self worth on the size of his contract. Should the Sox be in the ballpark, we believe he'll return to a team and city he knows, one which should be the favorite to win next year's World Series. So should somebody else offer $60 mil and the Sox offer say $55 mil we think he'll stay. As Chicagoist always questions when these ludicrous amounts of money are bandied about, what'll the last million or two get you that the rest won't? What could Paul Konerko possibly want that $50 million wouldn't buy? And leave enough for his kids and their kids to have whatever they want? Does he relish his own 747? We really don't think so. So we really expect to see Konerko in the lineup next season. But that doesn't mean that Ken Williams isn't exploring other options, too. And while Carlos Delgado and Jim Thome are possibilities, Manny Ramirez is not. But then Chicagoist isn't sure why that's even news. Clearly, Manny's me first attitude would have no place on the White Sox.

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