Ken Williams may move to Plan B
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Chicago White Sox general manager Ken Williams said Tuesday that negotiations with free agent Paul Konerko are at a standstill, prompting him to start seriously considering other options.
Where do negotiations stand? ... Still. I was very hopeful coming down here. I'm less hopeful now. I was hoping it wouldn't necessarily come down to getting serious with our other options, but we have no choice at this point.” -- White Sox GM Ken Williams
By no means are the Konerko talks finished. Konerko's agent, Craig Landis, said that talks with the White Sox are ongoing.
But a source has indicated that the White Sox will now concentrate on rebuilding their bullpen with Williams admitting he had meetings lined up to talk to player representatives later Tuesday evening.
"Where do negotiations stand? ... Still," Williams said. "I was very hopeful coming down here. I'm less hopeful now.
"I was hoping it wouldn't necessarily come down to getting serious with our other options, but we have no choice at this point."
The White Sox were believed to be offering three years and between $36 million and $39 million. But Adam Dunn's new deal was worth $14 million a year, and indications are that Konerko's camp is holding strong for at least the same, if not slightly more.
Williams declined to get specific on where things have broken down.
"The one thing I think is necessary, it's appropriate, particularly when we're talking about a guy that has been so respectful and so first class, that this doesn't need to be any more public than it is," Williams said. "So we'll keep those issues private."
But this is clearly, if not the worst-case scenario, then a dreaded one. Manager Ozzie Guillen said as much on Day 1 of baseball's winter meetings Monday.
"Like I say, [signing Konerko] is the type of thing that [will make you] look great," Guillen said. "If you don't, you're going to face people talking and making comments. And why not?"
In other words, there figures to be a lot of questions if the White Sox can't get this done. The close tie between Konerko and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf figured to play a key role, and it hasn't seemed to make a difference.
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Williams said he knows exactly what teams he is bidding against, but preferred to not reveal them.
"I don't much care what the perception of how we have to do business, because we're going to just try and put the best team on the field," he said. "We're going to be measured ultimately with how good the team performs, and that's the measuring stick we should go by.
"But I will do everything in my power to make people understand that Paul makes his own decisions, and for his own reasons, and that needs to be respected. He's given Chicago everything that we have a right to expect. There will be no hard feelings on this end. It's just the business of baseball."
Not satisfied with Dunn's defense at first base, Williams will target a mid-level first baseman if Konerko doesn't return. He will also use the money earmarked for Konerko to put together a quality bullpen. Either way, the money will be invested in the team.
"Jerry gave me some money and I'm spending it, absolutely," Williams said. "I think it's safe for you to assume that anybody that has good stuff, that can pitch a little bit in the back of our bullpen, or even the bridge to get to the back, we've probably touched base with. Whomever you've heard a rumor on you can go ahead and write it. I won't deny it."
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.
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