Earlier this month Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that Paul Konerko was “telling friends that he definitely wants to return to the White Sox next year and believes he can still be productive.”
However, it now sounds like the 37-year-old first baseman may be having second thoughts, telling Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago:
The last couple of times, and especially in 2005, there was no doubt I would play again. I understand the inquiries about my future and why people want to know. At the same time, it is still about doing my job; I don’t want to get ahead of myself. What is the rush, is the way I feel. There are certain things I don’t feel obligated to give out [or] tell people. There are some things that are private, and some people take it the wrong way.
My immediate reaction to that quote is to think Konerko plans to retire, because if he were simply going to come back for an 18th season would it really be that big of a secret? That’s just me trying to read between some lines, of course.
Konerko has had a miserable year, missing time with injuries and hitting just .248 with 11 homers and a career-worst .674 OPS in 121 games after topping an .840 OPS in each of the past four seasons. He’ll be a free agent this offseason, so even if he plans to return in 2014 it’ll almost surely have to be on an incentive-laden one-year contract and it’d be hard to blame the rebuilding White Sox if they weren’t all that interested.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.