D’Backs eyeing free agent first baseman Paul Konerko

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The free agent market will be fairly thin this winter, but that doesn’t mean the rumors won’t be flying.

Paul Konerko, a free agent, posted a stellar .312/.393/.584 batting line in 2010 with 39 home runs and 111 RBI.  The on-base and slugging percentages were career highs.

The White Sox never engaged in talks toward an extension with Konerko during the season, which indicates that they are prepared to let him walk.  And there will be no shortage of teams looking for a solid power bat.  In fact, one club has already thrown its hat in the ring.

Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that the Diamondbacks have expressed interest in the free agent and have made signing him an “offseason priority.”

Konerko grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona and still makes his home there.  Turning 35 in March, he might be attracted by the idea of settling down near his home.  And playing in the hitting-friendly confines of Chase Field should suit him well.

If the D’Backs do sign Konerko, it probably means that Adam LaRoche will not be brought back.  He has a $7.5 million mutual option for 2011 that comes with a $1.5 million buyout.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.