With the White Sox' exclusive negotiating window with Paul Konerko now closed, it's time to compile a short list of teams where the veteran slugger might land.
Yes, the White Sox are on the list. No, the Yankees are not.
In this completely unscientific gathering of teams, we will incorporate what we know about Konerko, what we think we know about teams around the league and rely on a little geography.
What we know about Konerko is that he wants to play for a winner. When he re-signed with the White Sox after the 2005 season, everybody knows that the Angels offered him $2 million more. Those two finalists made sense for many of the reasons listed below. But the Orioles also had a generous offer on the table that was barely considered. A losing team, especially one on the East Coast, didn't have much of an appeal that time and it certainly won't this time.
Teams to eliminate: Orioles, Royals, Nationals, Pirates.
Here's more of what we know about Konerko: A family man now with two sons (the first born just before the 2005 World Series), Konerko has more people to consider than he did the last time he looked for a deal. This is where geography comes into play. With a few exceptions, figure Chicago to be as far east as the Arizona resident would like to play the next few years.
Teams to eliminate: Blue Jays, Tigers, Indians, Marlins, Reds
Here is more geography to consider: There are 15 teams that conduct spring training in the Phoenix area now that the Rockies and Diamondbacks have fled Tucson. Figure Konerko to strongly consider one of those teams. Six weeks goes by a lot quicker in your own home than it does in a rented condo completely across the country.
Teams to eliminate: Twins, Braves, Mets, Cardinals, Astros.
How about getting into winners with money to spend: One reason why the Yankees, Red Sox and even the Rays haven't been eliminated from consideration despite the geography issues they present is that they might be willing to fork out a little cash. Konerko could wind up with between $33 million and $40 million on a three-year deal.
Teams to eliminate: A's, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Padres.
Now we can get into what Konerko has to offer: This past season with nearly 40 home runs and over 100 RBI shows that Konerko still can deliver. He also has great hands to pick out throws in the dirt, although he has always been as slow as refrigerated molasses, so his range on defense might not be as good as others. He will also be 35 on Opening Day, and keeping him at his peak through the end of a three- or even four-year deal might require a decent amount of designated hitter days. Suddenly, National League teams are falling by the wayside.
Teams to eliminate: Phillies, Cubs, Rockies, Dodgers, Giants.
Now comes the matter of who needs a guy like Konerko? This is where some teams go down because they are set at first base, including some big spenders.
Teams to eliminate: Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners, Angels.
So what is left?
Konerko's options appear to be down to three teams: The White Sox, Rangers and a surprise team to make the cut, the Rays.
And maybe the Giants might be willing to consider Konerko, although Aubrey Huff would return at a much more affordable price. Konerko would probably be up for it. The Giants do have spring training in Scottsdale, where Konerko lives.
And then again, after all of this, perhaps Konerko pulls a fast one and retires. But wouldn't a couple of more summers on the South Side be more rewarding? Golf can wait.