Konerko, Putz decline White Sox arbitration offer

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Konerko, Putz decline White Sox arbitration offer

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
11:53 a.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com
The only suspense surrounding Paul Konerkos decision to decline arbitration was when the official word would actually break.

That word finally came late Tuesday, long after reliever J.J. Putz also declined the Chicago White Sox offer of arbitration.

The logic to such a move from Konerkos standpoint is solid -- coming off a near-career year, the longtime South Side first sacker wasnt going to take a one-year deal from andor limit himself to the White Sox. Declining arbitration means that Konerko keeps his options open in every way: length of contract, total salary, and where he suits up.

Ominous in his late-season forum on pending free agency, Konerko noted that the White Sox could make the highest offer to him and he might still opt to play elsewhere. Curiously, he spent more time discussing the White Sox competitiveness within the division than he did an ideal future salary.

Konerko just ended a five-year, 60 million deal signed in the afterglow of the 2005 World Series win, choosing to re-up with the White Sox in spite of more generous offers from the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles. That postseason, Konerko was named the MVP of the American League Championship Series, a series win that propelled the club to its first World Series in 46 years. At age 34 in 2010, he hit 39 homers and drove in 89 runs, posting a .977 OPS and finishing fifth in AL MVP voting -- ensuring that he will receive offers comparable to the 12 million salary he earned.

Several factors are working against the White Sox re-signing their right-handed slugger, beyond his hinting late in the season he had at least one other city besides Chicago in which hed like to play. With the possible loss of catcher A.J. Pierzynski tilting the White Sox lineup even farther to the right, the club is in desperate need of left-handed hitting, something still in ample supply on the first basedesignated hitter market this offseason. Konerko is also highly unlikely to duplicate his 2010 season as his career winds down -- stats guru Bill James is already predicting a 120-point OPS tumble for the first baseman in 2011. Konerkos defensive skills are in decline at a time when the White Sox are placing a higher priority on solid fielding. And finally, the White Sox again have limited funds in which to pursue free agents -- even if Konerko was the teams first choice to add this offseason, any raise on a 12 million salary -- in fact, any deal in excess of 10 million -- would be cost prohibitive to the White Sox.

Finally, the plain fact is that for all his heroism for the Pale Hose, Konerko only outpaced his multimillion-dollar deal in 2006 and 2010, per FanGraphs value analysis. Over the course of his recent contract, Konerko was paid more than he was worth for his performance on the field. Clearly, Konerko offers assets beyond between the lines, evidenced by his five-year captaincy and continual mentorship of White Sox youngsters. Whether thats worth the golden parachute that could be tucked into whatever contract he would re-sign with the club is an elusive question to answer.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

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White Sox: Jose Quintana pleased with final warmup before Opening Day start

White Sox: Jose Quintana pleased with final warmup before Opening Day start

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Quintana was pleased with his final warmup before Opening Day.

The White Sox Opening Day starter threw 48 pitches (30 strikes) against a Milwaukee Brewers minor league team at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday. Quintana allowed two hits, two runs (one earned), walked one and struck out three in three-plus innings. He next pitches at home on Monday against the Detroit Tigers.

"I finished my preparation on a high note," Quintana said. "I'm heading to the season with good energy and satisfied with all the worked and effort that I put in my preparation.

"I'm absolutely ready for the season to start."

A tweet from USA Today's Bob Nightengale on Tuesday suggested Quintana will start the season as a member of the White Sox despite myriad rumors. Nightengale noted that the Houston Astros refuse budge on what they're willing to pay for the 2016 All-Star. The White Sox have also held firm on their asking price and haven't been motivated by any of the offers they've received to move Quintana.

The team reduced the number of players still in camp to 34 on Tuesday with the trade of Peter Bourjos and by cutting nonroster invitees Cory Luebke and Matt Purke. Luebke, who has been sidelined for six days after he tweaked his hamstring, finished the spring with a 0.96 ERA in 9 1/3 innings. He can opt out of his minor-league deal in May. Purke struck out eight in eight innings and finished with a 2.25 ERA. 

Both had been in the mix for one of two open bullpen spots.

Fellow reliever Jake Petricka looked much calmer on Tuesday than he did after taking a comebacker off his hand Monday. X-rays were negative and Petricka played catch. He hopes to pitch as scheduled this weekend in Milwaukee. 

"This is just one of those you do everything you can do to stay healthy, and its part of the game you can't control," Petricka said. "You never want that to happen, especially this late in camp. "But we dodged a bullet and we're good to go."

The White Sox also had a close call with second baseman Tyler Saladino, who was hit by a pitch in the left wrist in minor league action on Monday. Saladino received treatment and could return to action on Wednesday.

"He's doing good, we're just holding him back today for my well being," Renteria said.

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Renteria said reliever Juan Minaya is improving but still likely to start the season on the DL. Minaya suffered an abdominal tear in mid-March. 

"He has been improving solidly and responding to the treatments," Renteria said.

Yolmer Sanchez went 2-for-2 with an RBI and scored a run in a 7-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Surprise, Ariz. 

Michael Ynoa allowed an unearned run and a hit in 2 1/3 scoreless innings. 

Zack Burdi struck out three in a scoreless inning.