Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune seems to think so. He writes that the Rangers “are becoming a more realistic option” for Konerko.
The possibility has gained momentum in recent days, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported earlier this week that the Rangers were showing interest in the free agent first baseman after missing out on Victor Martinez, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Tigers.
Konerko, who turns 35 next March, batted .312/.393/.584 with 39 homers, 111 RBI and a 977 OPS with the White Sox this past season. According to Rogers, the Rangers view him as a potential replacement for Vladimir Guerrero, who is also a free agent this winter. The most likely scenario is that Konerko would split time between DH and first base with Mitch Moreland, who is also capable of playing the outfield.
Konerko would normally be in line for a massive payday after a career-year — and he still might get one — but teams have been increasingly less willing to hand out big contracts to players as they enter their mid-to-late 30s. Thus, I could see Konerko making some sense for the Rangers on a short-term deal if they aren’t truly sold on Moreland as their everyday first baseman. He would also represent an upgrade over Guerrero, who had a 748 OPS during the second half and offers zero flexibility in the field. Of course, the White Sox would be plenty happy to retain Konerko, especially in the event that a significant market for the veteran slugger fails to materialize.
Earlier this week Tigers GM Al Avila said that his club was going to get “lean” and “efficient” and that their days of spending big money are over. Later in the week Avila said that they would not likely offer a long term contract to outfielder J.D. Martinez, who will become a free agent after the 2017 season.
None of those comments necessarily suggested that the Tigers would be conducting a fire sale or anything, and it’s certainly possible to get leaner while still competing. One would assume that the Tigers could cut fat in the middle but still head into battle with their superstars. But that may not be the plan. Buster Olney:
. . . the message being received from the rest of the industry is a dramatic shift for one of baseball’s oldest franchises: They will listen to trade offers on everybody.
Miguel Cabrera. Justin Verlander. Ian Kinsler.
Trading those guys would be a pretty big deal. In both senses of the term.
It would take a blockbuster-sized deal to move such players. Verlander is owed $28 million a year for the next three seasons and has a vesting option for 2020 at $22 million. Cabrera just finished the first year of an eight-year, $248 million deal that will be paying him more than $30 million a year between 2018 and 2023, with an $8 million buyout for 2024. And that’s before the fact that both Verlander and Cabrera are 10/5 guys with full no-trade protection if they choose to exercise it. Beyond that Kinsler is a relative bargain at $11 million in 2017 and a $10 million club option for 2018 with a $5 million buyout. Victor Martinez and Justin Upton are hanging around too.
But for as big a trade would have to be if any one of those guys were dealt, it’d be a bigger deal in terms of team philosophy and direction. Cabrera has confirmed his Hall of Fame credentials in his nine years in Detroit. He’s the best player to wear the English D since Al Kaline and has been the biggest star in the organization for most of a generation. Verlander is nearly as important and nearly as famous. I don’t think it’s likely the Tigers will move either of them because the logistics of such deals would be mind-boggling, but even entertaining deals for these guys would alter the course of the franchise for years and years to come. It happens to every franchise eventually, but I don’t think the Tigers fan base is prepared for it to happen to them yet.
Still: the free agent market is thinner that it has been at any time in years and years. Cabrera and Verlander, if they could be had, would be the biggest splashes any team looking to improve could possibly acquire. Kinselr would be a big get for anyone as well. Al Avila knows that. Even if he’s not ready to part with his superstars, he probably owes it to his organization to at least listen.
Major League Baseball just announced the broadcast schedule for both Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) of the NLCS and the entire World Series.
There are no surprises here. The World Series games are all on Fox. The pregame show starts at 7:30 and the games themselves start just after 8pm Eastern Daylight Time, regardless of whether it’s Chicago or Los Angeles representing the National League. For some reason Game five of the World Series, scheduled a week from Sunday if it comes to pass, starts seven minutes later than all of the other games. Maybe something super exciting will happen then.