White Sox-Paul Konerko talks continue

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- That rocket ship hurtling toward the conclusion of the Chicago White Sox-Paul Konerko contract negotiations was slowed a bit Monday evening.

While some rumors had a deal for Konerko going down as early as Monday, the first day of baseball's annual winter meetings, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams cautioned against such a hurried resolution. He was among a group of White Sox representatives that met Monday with Konerko's agent, Craig Landis.

At first Williams sounded bothered by the inquiries into the Konerko negotiations, giving short answers to questions. It led to the obvious speculation that things weren't going well in talks.

"Maybe it's just because it's been a long day, but there is no reason to feel one way or the other," Williams said. "It was just an initial conversation that we had that leads to other conversations.''

Based on other free-agent signings, Konerko's open-market value is projected to be around $13 million a season, a number that would leave the White Sox with their highest payroll ever. Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf told FoxSports.com on Monday that he is willing to take payroll to $110 million in 2011.

Whether or not that includes a salary for Konerko remains to be seen. Williams said he feels like he is patient when it comes to negotiations, but his patience has a limit.

"There's a fine line," Williams said when asked if he had a deadline for Konerko's camp to accept a White Sox offer. "And that fine line [comes] when you risk losing your Plan B and C in favor of trying to be as patient as you can with your Plan A. We will wait as long as we can because we pretty much said on the record that he's the guy we want.''

While taken aback by the seven-year, $126 million deal Jayson Werth signed with the Washington Nationals, Williams doesn't think it will affect the Konerko negotiations.

"I wouldn't think so," he said. "Teams place different values on different players and are in different economic situations. We happen to be in a situation now where we've put ourselves out there and we want to continue to be as aggressive as we want to be but we also have to be fiscally responsible and not jeopardize too much of where we're going in favor of where we are. There won't be any less desire to win next year as there is this year so you have to be mindful of that."

Even though these were initial contract talks, Williams said there is enough of a framework for a deal that things can happen quickly once both parties are ready to bring discussions to a conclusion.

"It could be; I hope it is," Williams said. "But again, conversations have to take place and representatives have to go back to him and articulate what we've said and what we are thinking and he may have to go back and flush some things out that he had been working on. It's just a process, the offseason prices. I've learned not to get too up or too down."

If Konerko leaves the White Sox, manager Ozzie Guillen doesn't plan to pick a new team captain.

Guillen says "nobody earned" that honor.

Guillen spoke Monday at the baseball winter meetings. He planned to leave the session in Florida when the day ended so he could return to his home in Venezuela. The country has been ravaged by floods and mudslides in recent weeks.

Guillen says he wants to help in any way. He says he already has about 30 or 40 people staying at his house because of the damage.

Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.