As expected, reliever J.J. Putz and first baseman Paul Konerko declined the Chicago White Sox's offer of salary arbitration by the late Tuesday deadline, keeping their status unchanged on the free-agent market.
Both can still continue to negotiate a contract with all teams and neither has ruled out a return to the White Sox, as of now.
General manager Kenny Williams anticipated both decisions, saying last week that because of the caliber of players like Konerko and Putz, both need the time to get through next week's winter meetings to figure out where they fit into the marketplace.
With Konerko declining the team's arbitration offer, the White Sox will now be in line for compensation if he signs with another team. As a Type A free agent, the White Sox would get a top draft pick from the signing team. They would also get a supplemental or "sandwich pick" between the first and second rounds.
Putz is a Type B free agent so if he signs elsewhere, the compensation would be less. The team that signs him would not forfeit a draft pick, but the White Sox would still get a supplemental selection.
If closer Bobby Jenks is non-tendered as expected by Thursday's deadline, Putz would be a prime candidate to close games if he returns to the White Sox.
Had either player accepted salary arbitration, they would have guaranteed themselves not only a return to the White Sox but also a raise in 2011. But if they didn't work out a multiyear deal, that guaranteed return would have only been for one season.
Konerko, who will be 35 on Opening Day, has stated that he would prefer his next contract to be his last before retiring.
If Konerko doesn't re-sign with the White Sox -- and the budget seems to suggest that it is going to be difficult -- then it would leave the team with a huge void, both with offensive production and a veteran leader in the clubhouse. And if they can't afford to keep Konerko, would they really be able to afford to sign free agent Adam Dunn?
The White Sox could try to go the route of the World Series champion San Francisco Giants and sign a journeyman first baseman like Aubrey Huff. Or they could hand the job to Dayan Viciedo, leaving them potentially with a kiddie corps infield of Viciedo at first, Gordon Beckham at second, Alexei Ramirez at shortstop and Brent Morel at third base.
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.