Might this be the beginning of the end for Paul Konerko?
Konerko, who turned 37 years old in March, is hitting just .214 with a .623 OPS and White Sox manager Robin Ventura has decided to bench him for the past two games. And possibly more.
Konerko handled it well following a conversation with Ventura, telling Nate Sandell of MLB.com:
I came in ready to play. … Obviously I could have played yesterday. I could have played today. So it’s not like I’m out for some reason. I’m trusting him on that and trying to make the best of it.
For now the plan is for Konerko to rejoin the lineup, hopefully re-energized, but at age 37 there may not be a lot left to re-energize. Konerko had good all-around numbers last season, but struggled down the stretch by hitting just .243 with a .733 OPS in August and September. Add it all up and Konerko has hit .231 with a .297 on-base percentage and .391 slugging percentage in 82 games dating back to August 1.
UPDATE: Konerko is back in the lineup for this afternoon’s game against the Twins.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.
Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.
Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.
Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.
Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.
Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.
Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.