Paul Konerko is a free agent after declining an arbitration offer from the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox were obviously hoping he would accept arbitration so they could possibly get a discount and keep their power-hitting first baseman on the roster. He now has the ability to sign with any team, including the White Sox, and it doesn’t change much in his approach to this baseball offseason. Konerko is still looking for a contract that will pay him top dollar, and he will probably find someone willing to pay him double digits per season quite soon.
According to ESPN Chicago, Konerko is a Type A free agent now, as classified by Major League Baseball. Being a Type A free agent means that if Konerko signs with another team, the White Sox will gain two draft picks out of it. If the team signing him has a pick ranked 16 through 30 in the draft, the White Sox will gain their first-round selection. If not, then they will get their first pick in the second round as compensation. The White Sox will also get a supplemental pick (also called a sandwich pick) that will be ranked between the first and second rounds of the 2011 draft dependent on team records from 2010.
Last season for the White Sox, Konerko hit .312 with 39 home runs and 111 RBI. It was a great season, and one of his best in baseball. The problem, though, is that he is now 34 years old, and will turn 35 before the start of the next season. It means he is getting up there in years, and a potential suitor might not want to give him an extended contract like the one he might be hoping to receive. During the 2010 season, he made $12 million under his last contract, and could be looking to notch a pay raise after putting up such impressive numbers for the White Sox.
Konerko heads into a free agent market that also has Adam Dunn in it, and they seem to offer the same exact thing for roughly the same price. Teams might start thinking they can wait around for one of them to sign, and then pursue the second one at a cheaper price.
Meanwhile, the White Sox cannot afford to lose someone like Konerko from their lineup unless they are 100% sure they can find a suitable replacement to pick up that offensive output. This White Sox team appears to be very close to making it back to the playoffs, and with a record of 88-74 in 2010, they have shown that they are ready to contend with the current roster.