The Chicago Sun-Times’ Dave Van Dyck on the White Sox’ shopping list.
White Sox decision-makers, starting organizational meetings in Las Vegas, have begun mapping out winter plans that do not include their own free agent Magglio Ordonez, do include free agents such as Carlos Beltran and Omar Vizquel, and may include dangling first baseman Paul Konerko as trade bait.
These are clearly an important few days for the future of the team. By the time they are over general manager Kenny Williams hopes to have a salary budget for next season, one that could rise to more than $70 million.
“The only thing I know for sure is what I want to do first,” Williams said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “I’m optimistic about it [happening].”
He would not reveal more than that, but the first move could be the signing of Vizquel, the slick-fielding shortstop and potential leadoff hitter from Cleveland, which has said it will not try to retain him. The White Sox can’t sign Vizquel before Nov. 12, when free agents officially become completely “free.”
Vizquel, 37, reportedly wants at least a two-year contract worth at least $4 million per year.
That’s chump change compared with what Beltran”the hottest commodity among position players”will get. But that hasn’t kept Williams, who apparently is hearing things through baseball’s grapevine, from dreaming about him patrolling center field at U.S. Cellular Field.
“I know we would be an attractive destination for him,” Williams said, sounding sure of himself. “I know he has an interest. But it would do no good to get into particulars at this point.”
Sources say Williams may offer Konerko to other teams just to see what his value is. Even though he was the team leader in homers (41) and RBIs (117) last season, Konerko could be the big-name player going in any large trade this winter.
During the final month of the season, it was determined Carlos Lee would be kept in the outfield, making Konerko vulnerable as trade bait. The Sox apparently believe Ross Gload is good enough to handle first base in a revamped lineup that includes more speed, less reliance on power and better defense.
This doesn’t mean Konerko will be leaving, just that Williams could shop him in an effort to lower payroll (Konerko makes $8.75 million next season, but gets $500,000 more if he is traded).