Source: Owner-Paul Konerko bond key

The tight bond between free agent Paul Konerko and Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf figures to be a factor in contract negotiations, a source told ESPNChicago.com.

At the end of the season it was also suggested that the Konerko-Reinsdorf relationship would play an interesting role this winter.

At the very least, the bond figures to afford the White Sox one last chance at matching any deal Konerko might have on the table from another team.

The situation is unique, although not unprecedented, because it will give the White Sox a bargaining chip that other clubs won't have. Call them naive, but because Konerko and Reinsdorf are so close, the club expects that whatever dollar amount it could be asked to match will not be an artificially inflated one.

"Well, as I just told him, I said under my tenure at least, he is the classiest player that has put on a uniform," general manager Kenny Williams said on the last day of the season. "And I'm not just talking on the field and in this clubhouse. I'm talking outside of the game as well. You'll never hear me say a disparaging word against Paul Konerko."

In the end, that might be a bit of good news and bad news as far as the White Sox are concerned. If they can afford the offer on the table, they are expected to at least match it. That's the good news.

If budget restraints show they can't afford it, though, it could leave fans the perception that they had a chance to keep a productive player and fan favorite but declined.

"We don't know how it's going to play out," Williams said. "There are variables at play we have to go through, to see where we are, project our revenues and how the team fits as a whole. He has some things he has to work through in his mind as well.

"If at the end of the day, even if we are the ones who choose him and he doesn't choose us, you will never hear out of anyone in the White Sox halls a disrespectful word about Paul Konerko because he is that good of a player but also that classy of a man."

Over the weekend, the White Sox's five-day window of exclusive negotiating rights with Konerko expired. It is not clear if the White Sox made an offer during that time. Konerko, though, said at the end of the season that he was going to explore all his options, so even if the White Sox made an offer he was still going to gauge interest from other teams.

Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.