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.
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.