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Tuesday, February 22, 2011
GM: $30M for 1 player 'asinine'

ESPNChicago.com

It's safe to say the Chicago White Sox won't be pursuing Albert Pujols next offseason after comments made by general manager Ken Williams on Monday.

Talks between the slugger and the St. Louis Cardinals were put on hold after they couldn't come to terms. When Pujols is a free agent after this season, he could command as much as $30 million per season, possibly for 10 years.

When asked by Comcast SportsNet about Pujols becoming the highest-paid MLB player, Williams launched into a commentary on the state of baseball salaries.

"For the game's health as a whole, when we're talking about $30 million players, I think it's asinine," Williams said. "We have gotten to the point of no return. Something has to happen. And if it means the game being shut down for the sake of bringing sanity to it, to franchises that aren't going to stop the insanity, I'm all for it."

Williams said Tuesday that he wasn't targeting Pujols.

Heading into last season, the Pirates and Padres had payrolls of $35 million and $38 million, respectively, for their entire rosters.

The White Sox's payroll came in at $105 million last season and projects to be about $125 million this season. A Pujols contract in the $30 million range would account for nearly one quarter of that. Pitcher Jake Peavy is the highest-paid player on the White Sox this season at $16 million.

"If [owner Jerry Reinsdorf] gave me $30 million right now, I'm not going to spend it on one guy. Sorry, White Sox fans," Williams said, according to CSN. "But I tell you what, I'm going to take that $30 million and I'm going to distribute it around. My team is going to be better as a whole than it is with one player who might get hurt. Then you're done. Sorry, that's just me. And that's no disrespect to a future Hall of Famer, first ballot, one of the greatest players in history."

Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expires in December, and if circumstances in the NFL and the NBA are any indication, talks between players and owners could get heated. Williams would rather see baseball stop for a time if it meant getting the system straight.

"You're not going to get any disagreement from me or argument from me if the game is shut down for a while until something is put in place where there is some sort of [salary] cap on the board," Williams said, according to CSN.

Tuesday, Williams qualified his remarks on a baseball stoppage.

"Do I want that? Who does? Come on. Come on. This is a game where millions upon millions of people watch on television and come to the ballpark to get away from some of the things that are going on in life, to have a little bit of entertainment," Williams said. "That's all I'm saying. That's exactly what I'm saying, is that we have to protect that. We are stewards of the game and we have to protect it."

While discussing his reasoning, Williams mentioned championship teams from Oakland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the '70s and Kansas City in the '80s as small markets that helped popularize baseball.

"I think it's important that the people and the cities that I just mentioned and many more have just as much chance to hope and dream about their team winning a World Series as anybody else," he said. "Right now that's not happening."

The Yankees' payroll is almost twice that of the White Sox, but Chicago's is still among the game's top 10 payrolls (the Cubs were third prior to last season). Does Williams still want to see some kind of salary cap?

"I personally, from a competitive standpoint, would love to be on an even playing field with everyone," Williams said. "But it's really difficult for me to complain too much when we still have a higher payroll than some of the others. So at least we have a fighting chance."

Williams said the White Sox might operate at a loss this year. Chicago signed Adam Dunn to a $56 million, four-year contract and brought Paul Konerko back for three years at $37.5 million.

"Hell no, I'm not comfortable with the payroll right now. We're out on a limb. But that's our choice," he said. "We made the choice in an effort to give our fans hope and give ourselves a chance to compete for a championship. If things don't fall our way, if we don't get the support, we'll lose money."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.