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Extend Konerko?

2010/04/26

Phil Rogers waxes sentimental and suggests the Sox lock up Paul Konerko.

Konerko has been a bargain at $12 million a year, and the White Sox should offer him another two years guaranteed at that price with a third year that can vest depending on his performance in 2012. He’s a cornerstone piece of what has been a good team and you don’t want to make a change there before you have to.

Has Konerko really been a bargain? Retrospectively, no, not really, but I wouldn’t call it a bad contract.

$ WAR $/Win
2006 12 3.8 3.2
2007 12 2 6.0
2008 12 1.1 10.9
2009 12 2.6 4.6
2010 12 3.4 3.5
Total 60 12.9 4.7

Thanks to his great start, Konerko’s updated ZiPS projection calls for a .381 wOBA. If that forecast is right, that would be his third best season of his career, and it couldn’t happen at a better time for Konerko and his agent. Tempering optimism, CHONE called for a 2.2 WAR season before the season started. At any rate, the Sox will have paid PK somewhere between $4.7-$5.1 million per win once his deal expires. Productive, sure, but bargain is a bit of a stretch. It’s really more of a draw.

Extending him for his age 35-36 seasons doesn’t sound like a greatest idea, but let’s look at some of his comparable players for the sake of … I don’t know… curiosity? ZiPS’ comparable batters for Konerko are Brian Downing, Andre Thornton and Don Baylor. Those are actually some pretty favorable comparisons.

OPS+
Age 35 36 37
Don Baylor 139 109 111
Andre Thornton 94 99 -5
Brian Downing 130 137 128

Downing and Baylor both aged rather gracefully. Thornton did not. I forgot how good Downing was as a hitter; he had an OPS+ of 138 when he was 41 and then hung it up. That’s leaving on a high note, my friends.

I’m not sure this exercise proves much, but I guess I wouldn’t mind seeing the Sox extend Konerko at the right price. But the right price wasn’t necessarily at $12M per season before, and it certainly will not for the next two seasons. $14-16M for two more seasons sounds about reasonable, but how PK will actually age isn’t easy to read.

Carlos Pena, Adam Dunn, Derrek Lee and possibly even Lance Berkman will be available on during free agency, and Kenny Williams loves wheeling and dealing. And there’s still the slim hope that Dayan Viciedo figures out how to hit, although I don’t think anyone is holding their breath waiting for that to happen.

What’s the rush?

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