CHICAGO -- While saying that he is committed to the Chicago White Sox for the next two seasons, Paul Konerko also knows he could be gone before then if the White Sox figure out a way to go with a total youth movement.
“I think you look at it and you always listen to things on the table,” Konerko said. “If [GM] Kenny [Williams] or [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] wanted to call and say, ‘This is what we’re doing. What do you think?’ you listen to it all and make a decision. It’s a business.”
USA Today reported this week that the Arizona Diamondbacks put in a waiver claim on Konerko in September. Before asking Konerko if he would be agreeable to making that kind of move, Williams reportedly asked if young Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt could be among a package of players sent in return.
The Diamondbacks declined and Konerko was pulled back off waivers. Asked if he would have approved a deal this past season to join his hometown team, Konerko said the decision would have been tough. “I probably would have just left it to my wife,” he said.
So, clearly, the idea of moving on isn’t something that has occurred to Konerko just recently. He was close to signing with the Diamondbacks before the 2011 season.
“My thoughts are I signed up for three more years [with the White Sox] and when it said it on that contract, my thoughts were that I would finish with the White Sox good or bad,” Konerko said.
He said he is open to being the steadying veteran influence on a team made up of youngsters, under the condition that it is done for the right reasons, which presumably means it isn’t a salary dump, but an honest-to-goodness move to give on-the-job training to the next wave of White Sox star players.
Konerko feels that with Robin Ventura on board as manager, a youth movement on some level is possible.
“It probably confirmed a little bit that the young guys will stay in there,” Konerko said. “When you look at the end of the season, we had a lot of young guys on the field. Does it mean the older guys leave or get [the younger players] going? I don’t know about that.
“I think they look at Robin helping Gordon Beckham or Brent Morel that maybe he can get those guys over the hump to being sold everyday players. As a fan speaking, they could keep that going but how far I don’t know.”
The odds of a rebuilding phase in the mold of a Florida Marlins, Cleveland Indians or San Diego Padres won’t happen without its complications. It isn’t like the White Sox can find somebody to take the contracts of Adam Dunn or Alex Rios off their hands.
Knowing the White Sox also won’t be able to spend a lot of money this offseason on free agents means their expectations in 2012 will be fairly low. But that might not be a bad thing.
“The one time I won the World Series we were picked to finish third,” Konerko said. “Going into the season with a team that is supposed to win really hasn't done much for us in Chicago so I’m not afraid [of reduced expectations].”