On Wednesday, the Chicago White Sox and Paul Konerko agreed on a one-year, $2.5 million deal to keep the veteran first baseman on the south side. The fan-favorite is coming off of a disappointing season where he hit just .244 with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs in 126 games.
Despite the poor season, I still think this move can’t hurt the White Sox. Unless the White Sox can find a way to unload Adam Dunn and his large contract, Konerko is expected to fill the role of part-time designated hitter and clubhouse mentor. With free-agent signing of Cuban defector Jose Abreu, Konerko probably won’t see much time at first base. Instead, Konerko and Dunn will likely split DH duties with Konerko facing left-handed pitchers.
White Sox fans might scoff at the notion of having over $17 million invested in a platoon, but honestly it is probably the best they can do with Dunn still on the roster.
Let’s take a look and see how a potential platoon might work out.
In 2013, Konerko was his usual self versus southpaws by hitting .313 with 5 home runs and 16 RBIs in just 99 at-bats. Likewise, Konerko’s .226 average and .290 on-base percentage against righties suggests that his time as an everyday player might be over.
Konerko’s success versus lefties also means that White Sox fans don’t have to watch Adam Dunn hit .197 and carry a .296 OBP versus left-handed pitching.
Ideally, with a platoon, the White Sox will maximize each player’s skills into production. In fact, if you put Konerko’s stats versus lefties and Dunn’s stats against righties together, it is pretty solid stat-line for 502 at-bats. In 2013, the duo would have accounted for a .243 average, .341 OBP, 33 home runs, and 80 RBIs. That stat-line might not be all-star caliber, but it is probably a lot better than either one can produce as an everyday player at this stage of their respective careers.
For an additional $2.5 million, the White Sox could do much worse than bringing back Paul Konerko.
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