The Adrian Gonzalez -to-the-White Sox speculation has started to subside after last week’s rumor mill had the Padres and the South Siders in trade talks.
A Chicago White Sox official told me two days ago that the team has never put Gordon Beckham ’s name in any negotiations with any team. Nevertheless, the rumors persisted, which left Beckham to wonder about his future. And although the team assured him he wasn’t in trade talks, it was still distracting to the second baseman.
I talked to Paul Konerko about the situation and asked him how he dealt with trade rumors when he was a young player.
“It can just be conversation and a distraction during the day,” Konerko said. “That can happen, especially during the season as the trade deadline gets closer. There’s no question you have to be careful that outside influences don’t affect you. Trade situations as the season goes along not only can affect the player, but it can affect the whole team.”
I asked the veteran Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle if he was distracted by the trade rumors that first surfaced about him in 2007 before he signed a long extension to keep him in Chicago. At the time, the Boston Red Sox seemed to be the team the White Sox were talking to the most.
“It did make me think,” Buehrle said. “You hear that after you pitch that day that you’re going to be traded. That gets to you a little bit.”
One day recently I asked assistant general manager Rich Hahn what was true and what wasn’t about the Buehrle trade. He told me there were a couple of offers out there and I told him that I heard there was a potential deal to send Buehrle to Boston for Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz.
Hahn told Buehrle, “I hate to tell you this, but if that was the offer, my butt would have been driving you right to the airport and dropping you off.”
I asked Buehrle what it would have taken to get Gonzalez from San Diego.
“You would have to give up a lot to get a player like that,” Buehrle said. “I can’t really see us giving up a Gordon Beckham.”
I asked Buehrle, then, what his advice would be to Beckham in shooting down future trade rumors.
“My advice to Gordon would be to tell [the media] to (blank) off and not to pay attention to anything they say,” Buehrle said.
Going back to Konerko, I wondered how defensive the veteran first baseman would be hearing that the team had their sights set on having a younger player to eventually take his spot.
“Let me tell you something,” Konerko said. “If that guy’s on any of the 30 major league teams, they are much better because of his presence. He’s one of my most favorite guys to watch on TV. He’s tremendous. If we ever got him, all I could hope is that I could DH. He’s pretty outstanding at first base as well. I guess it doesn’t really affect me unless [the White Sox] say, ‘Pack your bags -- we got Gonzalez.’”
Konerko continued his praise of the Padres’ first baseman.
“Believe me when I tell you he’s coveted by everybody. Next season he’s going to get a gigantic deal,” Konerko said.
Former Arizona Diamondback Carlos Quentin, traded to the White Sox two years ago, understands what other young players go through when they first hear their names mentioned in trade talks.
“You have your on-field and off-field persona,” Quentin said. “You must separate the two. The only thing you can control in baseball is your approach to the game and your preparation for every game.”
I asked Quentin how he reacted to being traded by the Diamondbacks.
“The first time is a shock,” Quentin said. “When you hear a trade rumor with your name in it, it can be distracting. After the first time it happens, you become more familiar with it. For me, I just tried to keep my focus on the field. Sometimes those trades happen. Sometimes they don’t.”
The Boston Red Sox have been rumored all along to have the best matchup of young players to be able to obtain Gonzalez sometime this summer. Gonzalez’s inside-out swing is a perfect match for Boston’s Green Monster.