Potential Paul Konerko Suitors After He Cleared Waivers

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Potential Paul Konerko Suitors After He Cleared Waivers

Paul Konerko has spent nearly 17 seasons in the major leagues and the past 15 of those have been with the Chicago White Sox.

Is there a chance, though, that Konerko could finish the 2013 campaign—and perhaps his career—with another club?

There's at least the possibility it could happen, as Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reported last week that Konerko had been placed on waivers. Dan Connolly of the The Baltimore Sun reported that the veteran first baseman had cleared waivers, meaning he can now be dealt to any team.

White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams, though, didn't make it seem all that likely Konerko would be going anywhere. Williams was quoted Colleen Kanoe of the Chicago Tribune, as saying he would be "surprised" if Konerko didn't finish 2013 and perhaps his career with Chicago. Doug Padilla of ESPN.com had speculated that the 37-year-old will retire at season's end.

Yet another count against Konerko being moved is the fact that he has 10-and-5 rights. As a player with 10 years of service time in the majors and five years with the same club, he can veto any trade proposal.

Beyond that, Konerko is having his worst season as a regular starter, posting a slash line of .240/.305/.353 to go with nine homers and 40 RBI. He also spent a couple weeks on the disabled list in July due to a back strain.

The remaining salary left on his contract, which expires at season's end, is a little less than $3.5 million, which isn't exorbitant at this point, but it's certainly cost-prohibitive for some clubs.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Still, it's not like there aren't teams out there that couldn't use a borderline Hall of Fame candidate with 431 career homers and a World Series win on his résumé on their roster for a playoff push.

Here are a quartet of contending clubs that could be fits for Konerko now that he's cleared waivers.

 

Baltimore Orioles

Desginated hitter has arguably been the biggest dead spot in the O's lineup all season long. They're getting a .210/.269/.389 triple-slash out of the DH, which is currently being held down by Steve Pearce, a Quad-A hitter, after rookie Henry Urrutia was demoted over the weekend.

 

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Even the 2013 version of Konerko would be an upgrade over that. For for a team that entered Monday only three games out of the second wild-card spot in the American League, even a slight upgrade could be the difference between playing into October for a second straight season and falling short for the 15th time in 16 seasons.

The idea of using Konerko as a right-handed DH is something Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore considered.

 

Texas Rangers

Texas has already made one waiver trade with the White Sox this month, acquiring right-handed-hitting outfielder Alex Rios, so why not another?

The Rangers' current slash line of .234/.298/.421 at first base isn't getting it done. Mitch Moreland, who has seen the majority of the action there and hits from the left side, has always struggled versus southpaws with a .654 career OPS.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Konerko, meanwhile, sports a robust .917 career OPS against left-handers. Think that'd help Texas?

Plus, with Lance Berkman's injury and return up in the air, adding Konerko would bring depth to a lineup that is relying on rookie Jurickson Profar and journeyman Jeff Baker at DH.

 

Cleveland Indians

The Tribe's first-base production of .218/.310/.348 ain't pretty.

In fact, things got so bad, the Indians released Mark Reynolds after designating him for assignment last week. (Reynolds has since signed on with the New York Yankeeswho would have been a potential landing spot for Konerko.)

Jason Szenes/Getty Images

Releasing Reynolds wasn't a bad call—he'd homered just twice since the start of June and batted .098 in July—but it does at least mean Cleveland could find a way to fit Konerko in at either first base or DH most days.

Like the Orioles, the Indians are fighting for the playoff lives from the outside looking in, as they sit 4.5 games out of a wild-card spot after this weekend.

 

Tampa Bay Rays

While James Loney has been a revelation for the Rays (.310/.359/.442), the club has managed only 12 homers from first base position in 2013—fourth-fewest in baseball—and Loney is a career .258/.310/.367 hitter against left-handers.

Which club would be the best fit for Paul Konerko?

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If Konerko has shown he can still do anything this year, it's hit lefties. He's 23-for-72 (.319) with more walks (nine) than whiffs (seven) against southpaws and has smacked four of his nine homers against them this season in about one-fourth the at-bats he's had against right-handers.

With Tampa's top options at DH being Kelly Johnson and the currently injured Luke Scott, both of whom also bat from the left side, Konerko would be a useful piece for savvy manager Joe Maddon to deploy. If the mini-market Rays can afford to foot the bill, of course.

Perhaps an investment of a few million dollars would be worth it in this case, given that Tampa is only three games up in the wild-card race, but also only one game in back of the Red Sox for the AL East lead.

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