LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is coming to town and the checkbook is wide open.
A source has indicated that Reinsdorf is ready and willing to do whatever he can to keep Paul Konerko on the White Sox roster, and by the end of the first day of the winter meetings Monday, in the shadow of Disney World, he just might feel like he is in the happiest place on Earth.
Reinsdorf will be among the White Sox representatives meeting with Konerko’s agent Craig Landis on Monday.
Just how determined is Reinsdorf when it comes to getting his man?
Indications are that the thought of Konerko wearing another uniform makes Reinsdorf anxious and that losing one of his favorite players to ever wear a White Sox uniform under his tenure would be harder to take than any on-field disappointment the club has experienced.
But it isn’t a bottomless wheelbarrow of money the White Sox will roll into Monday’s meeting. They have their limits and still could be outbid during the negotiating process. The White Sox could be willing to do a three-year, $39 million deal, or even one at four years and $52 million.
Whatever happens, a number of factors are in the White Sox’s favor.
First, Konerko has said he is wide open to the free-agent process this time around and wants to go to a place where he feels is the perfect fit. What could feel more like a team than two teammates in Adam Dunn and A.J. Pierzynski deferring money just in the hope that you come back? In Pierzynski’s case, it was half of his $4 million salary.
Second, it isn’t as if there are a lot of teams with money, and who are contenders, that are a good fit for Konerko. Many of the successful, financially sound teams that could afford him are set at first base. And his National League options are somewhat limited because he will be 37 during the last season of a three-year deal, and there is no designated-hitter spot to plug him into to keep him fresh.
Third, his intention was presumably to stay on the West Coast for family reasons (his primary residence is in Arizona and he has two young sons). For the sake of this argument, and to really be open-minded, we’ll consider the West Coast anything that isn’t east of Chicago. The Rangers and Giants might make sense, so it will be interesting to see if either steps forward.
Fourth, and this one might pull some significant weight, Konerko’s bond with Reinsdorf can’t be underestimated. When Konerko stashed the ball used to record the last out of the 2005 World Series and handed it to the chairman at the celebration parade, that wasn’t the moment their bond was formed, it was just the moment when it was made public. Reinsdorf practically is family to Konerko and remember, this is partially about family.
The White Sox might be able to get Konerko to return Monday. And then again, the Konerko camp has been patient this long so maybe they wait it out to the end of the meetings just to make sure all their options have been weighed.
But when you put it all on the scale, things really appear to be tipped in the White Sox’s direction.