LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The White Sox are making an effort to let everybody know what chairman Jerry Reinsdorf did not do this week.
To wit, the White Sox are saying that Reinsdorf did not enter last-minute negotiations to make sure a three-year, $37.5 million Paul Konerko deal got done Tuesday night. For Konerko fans, a move like that from Reinsdorf would have been heroic.
“He's happy,” general manager Ken Williams said when asked about the chairman during the press conference to announce Konerko’s deal. “He's not happy with being portrayed as coming in on the white horse to save the day, because he really – you know, he's got a close relationship with Paul. He really tried to stay out of this as much as possible. I think he and [Konerko’s agent] Craig [Landis] had maybe talked briefly once, maybe twice, and it wasn't about details.”
Before the winter meetings started, a source told ESPNChicago.com that Reinsdorf was willing to do whatever it took to retain Konerko. And the same source said there would be long faces in the White Sox front office if the veteran went elsewhere.
Then late Tuesday night, the Chicago Sun-Times reported via Twitter that Reinsdorf was getting involved in 11th-hour negotiations to see if he could help get a deal done.
Not true, the White Sox made sure to tell reporters Wednesday.
Konerko is like family to Reinsdorf so of course he didn’t want his personal feels for a player to cloud the negotiating process. But it’s not like the White Sox were in the midst of giving a lifetime contract to a struggling pitcher or an over-the-hill position player.
Looking at it as an apparent ethical issue, though, the White Sox took the time to explain things.
At least Konerko was willing to admit that from his side, his feelings for Reinsdorf were completely in play during the negotiating process.
“As far as me coming back and playing for the team he runs, that affects it greatly because I respect the man and he’s treated me nothing but good the whole way through,” Konerko said Wednesday. “As far as the negotiations I know my agent Craig Landis had a couple of good meetings with him down there in Orlando. I don’t know, I guess that’s more of a question for those guys.
“When you’re doing these things, there’s a phone call made, then everyone goes back in their room and powwows and comes back with an answer. I don’t know what it comes down to, who is the dominant voice in there talking or who’s the one who’s really coming out with what comes back to me and my agent. I’d like to think that it’s some of Jerry and that he likes me. I guess, I don’t know. But I also know they’re going to try to make smart business decisions, so it’s always that fine line. Jerry’s a very loyal guy.”
But Konerko said it’s obvious Reinsdorf has a weakness for players with whom he has formed a bond.
“… Honestly over the years there would be 20 guys he would keep if it all worked out right,” Konerko said. “I know it kills him when he has to let someone go that he likes because it’s the right move, and I just didn’t know. It could have been one of these situations where it’s just the end of the road.”
It’s not, though. And on the first and 15th of every month during the next three seasons, there will be at least one paycheck Reinsdorf will be happy to sign.