Jose Abreu may be on the way but it doesn’t necessarily signal the end of Paul Konerko’s tenure with the White Sox.
Konerko is still set to meet with the club in early November to discuss his plans for next season. The 15-year White Sox veteran first baseman becomes a free agent shortly after the conclusion of the World Series, which begins on Tuesday.
Even though it’s quite clear the White Sox have found -- pending a physical -- Konerko’s heir apparent with Abreu, who signed a six-year, $68-million deal on Thursday, and Adam Dunn is under contract through next season, there still could be room for the veteran.
Hours before word of Abreu’s signing leaked, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said on a conference call Thursday afternoon the team plans to meet with Konerko next month.
“(We’ll) talk through what Paul is feeling and how he wants to handle his future as well as potentially the role he could conceivably play on the 2014 White Sox,” Hahn said. “Those conversations haven’t taken place yet and when they do we we’ll handle them the way we have (before) which is open and honestly and internally and not publicly.”
Konerko missed nearly an entire month with back issues in 2013 and posted a .244/.313/.355 line in 126 games. He finished with career lows with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs in 520 plate appearances.
Prior to the season’s end, Konerko addressed his future even though he knew a number of factors were in play, including the chance there might not be a job waiting for him in Chicago.
Asked if he would accept a part-time role with the White Sox, similar to the one played by Jason Giambi in Cleveland last season, Konerko said it’s a possibility.
“The only place I could do that would be here because my family likes it here, my kids love I there, it’s a great place to be in the summer,” Konerko said. “I’ve been here.”
Based on his views on Konerko’s influence in the clubhouse, manager Robin Ventura might be open to the veteran returning in a limited role. Ventura spoke glowingly about the value Giambi brought to the Indians even though he only had 216 plate appearances, saying the veteran was likely a significant voice in Cleveland’s clubhouse. He knows Konerko could mean the same to the White Sox.
“You have a guy that leads by example and has been a class act his whole career,” Ventura said in August. “There are a lot of things I don’t necessarily have to deal with because guys are influenced by (Konerko), just his work ethic, how he goes about his business. That’s good stuff that I get the benefit of from having him on the team.”