Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko

The White Sox will trade anyone but Sale… and Konerko?

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That’s the word from CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. The White Sox are open to parting with younger regulars like Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo and Gordon Beckham and they’d certainly be willing to move Adam Dunn and John Danks. But ace Chris Sale is unavailable, as is 10-and-5 guy Paul Konerko.

Heyman doesn’t indicate whether that’s Konerko’s preference or the team’s. Konerko has full no-trade protection because of his veteran status. From a performance standpoint, there wouldn’t seem to be a whole lot of reason for the White Sox to keep him. He’s 37, struggling this year (.253/.319/.373 in 249 AB) and he’s a free agent at season’s end.

The White Sox most likely to be traded are relievers Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton. Crain, one of the AL’s best relievers so far this year, is a free agent at season’s end and will probably want another costly three-year contract. Thornton’s contract includes a $6 million option for next year that the White Sox probably won’t want to pick up.

Closer Addison Reed would also be in demand and could bring more in return than anyone else on the White Sox roster, Sale excepted. However, since he’s not going to be a free agent until after the 2017 season, the White Sox would have to be blown away to move him.

The White Sox offense doesn’t have as many intriguing options for potential deals. It is, after all, the AL’s worst offense so far this season. No one on the team has an .800 OPS, though Rios is close at .794. He’s owed a reasonable $12.5 million next year and either $13.5 million or a $1 million buyout in 2015, giving him a fair amount of trade value. He can block a deal to six teams.

It’s hard to imagine the White Sox finding takers for Dunn or Keppinger. Ramirez wouldn’t be a bad pickup for a team in need of a shortstop, but the White Sox have always seemed to overvalue him. Plus, he’s due to make $19.5 million between 2014 and ’15. The White Sox would be selling low on Viciedo, so they’ll probably keep him and hope for the best. Beckham is a more interesting case, since he has hit fairly well in limited action while not sidelined by a broken hamate this year (.309/.340/.383 in 28 games). He still has some upside remaining, but he’s probably going to make about $4 million next year and the White Sox have Carlos Sanchez as a possible second baseman of the future.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.