Tuesday is the final day major league free agents can accept arbitration from their teams. Paul Konerko and his agent Craig Landis must decide if a one-year guaranteed contract with the Chicago White Sox is acceptable or will they consider a two- or three-year deal with the White Sox or someone else down the line.
For example, if Konerko accepts arbitration, he is agreeing to a one-year contract. Konerko will come in with one salary figure and the White Sox will come in with another price. If they can't agree on an amount the case will go to an arbitrator who has been chosen in an agreement between Major League Baseball and the players association.
The arbitrator must choose one side's salary amount and cannot come up with a different figure. The comparisons are based on statistics and arguments made. These sessions take place between Feb. 1 and Feb. 20. Konerko made $12 million last season and that would be the starting point for both sides. After having had one of his best seasons ever with 39 home runs and 111 RBIs, Konerko may come in with a figure of $16 million while the White Sox may come in closer to $14 million. That's when the process begins.
As a free agent Konerko, 34, has drawn interest from a number of teams, including the Texas Rangers, who would use him as a first baseman and designated hitter. The consensus is that Texas will probably not bring back last year's DH, Vladimir Guerrero, even though he had a good season.
Konerko is a unique individual who has a conservative perspective of his situation and his value. In 2005 Konerko turned down a five-year, $65 million contract offer from the Baltimore Orioles, deciding to sign with the White Sox for five years and $60 million. If Konerko turns down the arbitration offer nothing really changes. The White Sox can still negotiate with Konerko. But if he signs elsewhere the White Sox receive two draft picks.
Reliever J.J. Putz is the other White Sox player who has been offered arbitration. He is expected to turn down the offer and continue to talk to the White Sox and other teams about a two- or three-year contract. If Putz signs elsewhere, the White Sox would receive a middle-round draft pick.