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December 5, 2013

Transaction Analysis

Last Call for Paul

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Re-signed 1B-R Paul Konerko to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. [12/4]

This is a symbolic signing, of course; a reward for 15 years of great service. Konerko is unlikely to play beyond the 2014 season, but coming back for another year gives the league and the fans a chance to send him off in proper fashion. Those who concern themselves more with the tactical than the sentimental might wonder how he'll fit on a roster that already features Adam Dunn, Jose Abreu, and Dayan Viciedo. Presumably, Konerko will act as a bat off the bench most days, with a focus on sparing Dunn the indignity of facing tough same-handed pitching, all the while acting as a mascot slash coach. Given how wonderful Konerko's career has been, you kinda hope the guy goes out with a big season.

NEW YORK YANKEES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed UTL-L Kelly Johnson to a one-year deal worth around $3 to $4 million. [12/3]

A good (and predictable) fit. Johnson is a versatile player who saw time across the infield and outfield last season for the Rays. His sound approach and left-handed pop should play up in Yankee Stadium, and his past experience within the division can't hurt. It's worth noting Johnson changed his hand slot, enabling him to get into the hitting position quicker, which is one of Kevin Long's go-to tricks when dealing with veteran hitters. Yet, even with those lowered hands, Johnson struggled in the second half, perhaps due to a minimized role. The good news for the Yankees is Johnson can work on a roster with Robinson Cano just as easily as he can without the star second baseman, so this is not a portent.

CHICAGO CUBS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed LHP Wesley Wright to a one-year deal worth $1.4 million. [12/4]

That didn't take long. Wright was non-tendered by the Rays on Monday and found a new home within 48 hours. The small southpaw mostly relies on a sinker-slider combination to get batters out. He's best used as a left-handed specialist, despite some rough numbers against same-side hitters last season. Provided Rick Renteria is careful about who Wright faces, he should outperform his salary and could be a midseason trade candidate.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

11 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

JoshC77

Gotta say, those are three moves that all make sense. Getting Konerko back hedges their bets a wee bit on Abreu; Johnson is a piece that can cover the Yankees in several spots if needed; and Wright is a cheap bullpen piece that can help out versus lefties.

Maybe not as flashy as all the moves made on Tuesday, but these are the kinds of moves, if they work out, can really make the difference over the long baseball season.

Dec 05, 2013 04:49 AM
rating: 2
 
tommybones

Love Kelly Johnson signing. Made for that park, insurance in many areas... solid move.

Dec 05, 2013 06:30 AM
rating: 0
 
Jay DeBoer

Signing Mark Reynolds also would make them a great platoon option for 3rd while also having some use at other positions.

Dec 05, 2013 07:40 AM
rating: 0
 
Jon KK

*Rick* Renteria

Dec 05, 2013 08:03 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

R.J. was simply using an adjective to describe Renteria. An adjective that now everybody will have to guess at, as I have changed it to his (correct) first name. Thanks.

Dec 05, 2013 08:51 AM
 
Jon KK

Which would be hilarious (and we could probably use more baseball execs like that,)except that he capitalized it. ;-)

Dec 05, 2013 11:44 AM
rating: 0
 
Asinwreck

Given how terrible Konerko was last season, you kinda hope the guy hangs it up in Spring Training and lets someone with a chance of providing more value have that roster spot.

Dec 05, 2013 08:23 AM
rating: 0
 
jdeich

He had a .923 OPS vs. LHP in 2013, right around his career average. His decline was vs. RHP (79% of his PAs, admittedly), so the short half of a platoon with Dunn may work out.

Treating Konerko kindly may also be worth $2.5M to the CWS just in terms of attendance and merchandise.

Dec 05, 2013 08:55 AM
rating: 0
 
Asinwreck

Aside from the question of whether a more marginal position in baseball exists than the short half of a platoon DH, does anyone believe the White Sox will generate an additional $2.5 million (or, let's be fair and make it $2 million, counting the roster spot to Marcus Semien or another player below the arb years) in fans desperate to see him get thrown out by 20 feet after breaking his bat one last time?

Look, I'm a Sox fan. Have been since before Konerko was born. Saw fan favorites play and leave. About the only analogy to Konerko's situation was Carlton Fisk's 1993, and that was done so Fisk could break a major-league record. (He was released the following day, which did not seem to put a dent in attendance the rest of the summer.) I find it hard to understand the revenue difference between bringing Konerko back in 2014 and having a Paul Konerko Day the first home Sunday of the season.

If the return's about his leadership, well, that leadership contributed to the 99-loss disaster of last season. He's given Sox fans some wonderful memories. But that's not a reason to keep him in uniform.

Dec 05, 2013 09:15 AM
rating: 1
 
NYYanks826

The Sox won the division in 1993, so since they were a contending team the whole season, of course attendance was not affected.

2014 is not looking too bright for the Sox, however. Attendance figures will be low regardless of whether Konerko plays. However, if they were to release him, that would hurt the numbers even more.

There is no issue re-signing Paul to a cheap contract for one last season when they really have nothing to lose, especially when he is only expected to play on a limited basis anyway. Let him go out on his own terms, and let the Sox fans appreciate one of their franchise players for one last season.

Dec 05, 2013 11:15 AM
rating: 3
 
godfather

agree that kj fits nyy fine, and that nabbing reynolds for his versatility would be a natural follow-up...let phillips dazzle somewhere else and, last and most, just overpay for cano, since you already set the mode in motion for ells, who will be making lots of dough while irrelevant

Dec 05, 2013 09:47 AM
rating: 0
 
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Premium Article Minor League Update: I... (12/05)
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Transaction Analysis: ... (12/04)
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The Lineup Card: Seven... (12/05)

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