Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com reported yesterday that Paul Konerko’s “tight bond” with team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf “figures to afford the White Sox one last chance at matching any deal Konerko might have on the table from another team.”
While that’s a unique situation in baseball it’s somewhat similar to “restricted” free agency in the NBA and NFL where teams can match any “offer sheet” signed by a player. Padilla notes that it could upset the White Sox’s fan base if they’re given the opportunity to match any offer and still decide to let Konerko leave, but a bigger question is whether the situation could limit Konerko’s market as a free agent.
Will teams be as enthusiastic about pursuing and courting Konerko if they know any offer they make will simply be taken back to the White Sox? And if Chicago’s offer-matching ability does depress Konerko’s market in any way, then wouldn’t it make sense that the White Sox were behind the information getting to Padilla in the first place?
In other words, is it in the White Sox’s best interests to let the other 29 teams know that they have the final say on any offer to Konerko? Not quite a stay-off-my-turf pronouncement, certainly, but assuming the White Sox are truly interested in re-signing Konerko–and they’ve given every indication that’s true–then it’s clearly better for them the fewer teams are seriously pursuing the 35-year-old first baseman.
Konerko giving the White Sox the chance to match all offers is a very nice gesture from a player who has spent a dozen years in Chicago, but when it comes time to actually negotiate those offers I just wonder if he should be happy the good will towards Reinsdorf and company is now public knowledge.
Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.
Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.
It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.
“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”
Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.
This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.
With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.