Place your bets now, it looks like it's down to three teams in the Paul Konerko derby: the Angels, Orioles and White Sox. According to various published reports (listed at the bottom), here's what Paulie currently has on the table:
Angels: 5 years/$60 million* ($12.5 mil/year)
Orioles: 4 years/$50 million** ($12 mil/year)
White Sox: 4 years/$52 million***($13 mil/year)
If....if....all those numbers are accurate (and who really knows until anything is official?), the Sox have the highest annual salary and the hometown advantage.
The chances of Konerko going to Baltimore- a franchise in disarray that holds spring training in Florida- are slim to nil. The Orioles likely realize this, and will either drop out or up their offer to some ridiculous amount (the Baltimore Sun says the Orioles are mulling over a 6-year offer) and hope Konerko goes for the cash. That is very unlikely (this is Paul Konerko, not Magg$ Ordonez), but it might drive up Paulie's market value.
The Angels are the real threat here. They're a competitive team that trains in Arizona (close to Konerko's home) and plays in sunny California. But if the offers from the Angels and the Sox are similar enough, Konerko will probably chose to stay in Chicago. He did just win a World Series here, remember? So the Angels will have to differentiate themselves and their offer from the Sox-maybe with that 5th year or by increasing the annual salary.
Whatever Konerko gets this offseason will be too much. He's a good hitter and a nice guy, but he's one dimensional and plays an easily-replaceable position in the field. Shelling out $13 million over 4 or 5 years is a high price that could hamper the Sox in the future. Remember it was only one year ago that many though Konerko's $8 million salary was an albatross!
* Reported by the Los Angeles Times
** Reported by the Baltimore Sun
*** Rumor from the Chicago Tribune