White Sox general manager Rick Hahn recently met with free agent Paul Konerko and made it clear that he’d welcome the 38-year-old first baseman back in a part-time role.
However, during an interview with WSCR-AM radio in Chicago team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf revealed that the White Sox still “have no idea” if Konerko even plans to continue playing:
I have no idea. It’s truly Paul’s option. He has earned the right to come back if he wants to come back. He’s been the most popular player over the last 15 years that we’ve had. … He’s basically a White Sox lifer. He’s a terrific teammate. He’s our captain and he just has to make a decision whether he wants to come back or not.
At some point the White Sox will presumably need an answer from Konerko so they can move on with their offseason one way or another, although if he’d truly be returning in a part-time bench role perhaps timing isn’t that important.
Konerko hit .244 with 12 homers and a .669 OPS in 126 games for the worst OPS of his career and the White Sox signed Cuban slugger Jose Abreu to play first base while also having Adam Dunn at designated hitter.
Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”
The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.
Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. He had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.