Konerko decision due before meetings

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox should know within three weeks whether Paul Konerko will accept their offer of a roster spot for the 2014 season.

General manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday the team expects to have the situation resolved before the winter meetings begin Dec. 9, insisting that the wait isn't hurting the team's ability to put together next year's roster.

"It's not really hamstringing us in terms of our planning," Hahn said. "We have a plan, obviously, if he's back, and we have a plan if he's not back. We haven't missed on any opportunities to fill that role if he doesn't fill it himself. I think it's good to have it resolved for his own preparation, and for the terms of getting ready for spring training to have it set by December. I think we'll be able to do that."

Both Hahn and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf have said they will welcome Konerko back with open arms if he wants to forgo retirement, but there have been no indications about what the team would be willing to pay its team captain, who made $13.5 million in 2013.

Hahn and manager Robin Ventura met with Konerko in Arizona before this month's GM meetings to personally extend the offer of a roster spot.

It's a rare situation, but the White Sox felt compelled to make the offer because of Konerko's productive 15 seasons on the South Side and his positive clubhouse influence.

"We are dealing with the face of the franchise for the past 15 years, and one, whether he plays in 2014 or not, [who] will always be associated with a very successful era of White Sox baseball," Hahn said. "Jerry publicly made it very clear that because of who Paul is and what he's done for this organization, that he's earned the right to make this decision on his terms, and that's what we are providing him the opportunity to do."

Konerko, 37, became a free agent at the end of the season, and while he has not ruled out the possibility that he could sign with another team, he has said that if he does play again it would be for only one more season.

Konerko has 427 of his 434 home runs in a White Sox uniform and all but 29 of his 1,390 RBIs with the club. This past season, though, he struggled with injuries and production, as his 12 home runs, 54 RBIs and .355 slugging percentage all were career lows.

Moving forward, there are no guarantees of playing time for Konerko. The White Sox signed Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu last month and also have Adam Dunn under contract for one more season. Adding Konerko would give the White Sox three first base/designated hitter types on the same roster.

What is left for Konerko to decide is whether he can be productive again.

"I don't think Paulie wants to play just to be on the bench or a farewell tour. That's not him," Hahn said. "He's not looking to go to every ballpark and receive a gift or a special send-off from White Sox fans. He would want to play only if he felt he had something left in the tank and something to add to a club."