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What's Next for Paul Konerko After White Sox Sign Jose Abreu?

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 29:  First baseman Paul Konerko #14 of the Chicago White Sox looks down at first base before the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at U.S. Cellular Field on September 29, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
Chris StephensCorrespondent IIOctober 29, 2013

Paul Konerko's days with the Chicago White Sox seem to be over after the team signed international free-agent first baseman Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million deal.

In addition to Abreu, the White Sox also have Adam Dunn under contract, creating a logjam at first base and DH.

With the signing, what does that mean for Konerko since he's a free agent? If he decides to continue playing, does that mean he's going to have to find a new team? And if so, what teams would likely be interested in him?

 

White Sox Interest Still There

Even with the Abreu signing, Chicago still has interest in re-signing Konerko, according to Dan Padilla of ESPN Chicago:

General manager Rick Hahn insisted the White Sox remain interested in talking to Konerko about a one-year deal. Konerko said before the season ended that if he does come back it would only be for one more season and then he would slip into retirement. 

The biggest obstacle to bringing back Konerko wouldn't seem to be financial as much as it would seem to be too many versions of the same type of player.

With two first base/DH-type players already on the roster, it must be asked: Why are the White Sox still interested? Could it be the fact that Konerko has been in Chicago for 15 years?

They could use Konerko and Dunn in a platoon-type role. Konerko could face the lefties, while Dunn gets the righties.

But let's look at how each has compared against righties and lefties over the last three years:

Comparing Paul Konerko to Adam Dunn
vs. RightiesBASOHRRBIXBH
Paul Konerko.2801965218497
Adam Dunn.20941565164104
vs. LeftiesBASOHRRBIXBH
Paul Konerko.29050175035
Adam Dunn.163173215432
Baseball-Reference.com

The numbers clearly show that outside of home runs that Konerko has been superior, but Dunn is still under contract for one more year.

Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that Dunn could walk away from the game this offseason as well. If that happens, then there's no question Chicago would bring Konerko back. That would be the scenario that would make the decision easiest for Konerko.

The White Sox currently have $56.9 million committed to next year's team, according to Baseball Prospectus. This past season, the payroll was at $118.9 million.

If they wanted to, the White Sox could swing a deal to re-sign Konerko and give him one final season in Chicago, even if it was in a platoon role. But what if that doesn't happen and Konerko still wants to play?

 

Teams that Could Have Interest in Konerko

The Los Angeles Angels would be a team that could be considered in the running for Konerko should he pursue free agency.

With the Angels currently looking for starting pitcher, ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted this out:

If Trumbo were the one to be traded, then there would be a hole that Konerko could fill. He could even switch between first base and DH with Albert Pujols so that neither player has to play the field as much.

The Boston Red Sox may be another option since Mike Napoli was only signed to a one-year contract last offseason. Napoli could find bigger dollars going somewhere else, thus opening up a hole for Konerko. And it's not like it would take much to entice Konerko. Boston could point to the fact that it has a club that is built for another World Series run next year, giving Konerko one more opportunity to be labeled a champion.

The New York Yankees would be another viable option considering Travis Hafner is leaving as a free agent this offseason as well. The Yankees are another team that has the talent in place, and the dollars to bring in the talent they don't have.

Other teams could be considered. However, being that Konerko will be 38 next year, it's hard to see him going to an NL team where he would have to play every day. A team that has the DH as an option would be what's best for Konerko.

 

Predictions

There's no way Konerko will go somewhere else for one final year. Sure, he'd like to win another title, but he wants to do that with the White Sox.

Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports Konerko would prefer to stay with the White Sox:

Should Konerko return in 2014, it would be his last season. If he decides to play, he would prefer it be with the Sox.

The only place he would consider being a part-time player is in Chicago. Playing elsewhere next year would be tough but would be considered if he really wanted to play and couldn't reach a deal with the Sox.

After 15 years, it's hard to imagine him being able to put on another uniform.

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