The Orioles have reportedly made a “significant” offer to free agent first baseman Paul Konerko. At 35, Konerko remains in my opinion the top first baseman available, with solid defense, a consistent power hitter, and coming off of a great year in which he hit .312 with 39 home runs and 111 RBI (I personally hate the RBI stat, but there you go for everyone else). Even if he dips to his career average numbers next season, he will still perform well better than any of the players the Orioles had platooning at first this season, from Ty Wiggington to Luke Scott, Garrett Atkins and Jeff Conine (wait, not Conine? Retired? Oh, I figured they had tried everyone last season…).
But let me ask the questions that I know you are ready to ask. Is this a real offer? Is there actually a shot Konerko would come to Baltimore to finish his career?
As for if it’s a real offer, I will say yes. I know, I will be fried for this, but I am part of that crazy gang that thinks that the Orioles are trying to make this team better. Remember, the Orioles made a run at Konerko in 2005, and actually outbid the White Sox by about $4 million for his services. Konerko felt that he wanted to stay in Chicago and thus stayed put. If the Orioles don’t want a repeat of history they will have to blow him away with an offer.
If added, Konerko would fit right into the middle of the lineup and be, at least for a few seasons, exactly what Baltimore has been missing. However, I hesitate to wonder if Konerko, with such close ties to the White Sox organization and an almost assumption of resigning with Chicago would ever consider going elsewhere. I think Baltimore is doing what it has to- making a very good offer to a very good player just in case he can be swayed to come to Charm City. Remember, fans have no idea if Victor Martinez gave the Orioles the chance to up their offer; there is a good chance that Baltimore had no idea what the Tigers offer was and if they had, they very well may have upped their bid for the free agent catcher/1st baseman. It should also be noted, Detroit is offering to let Martinez catch 50% of the time, something that the Orioles simply could not.
I know the fanbase has some consternation as to whether Baltimore is low-balling free agents with offers below their market value. They may very well have to go well above market value to pry Paul Konerko from his comfort zone on a division contender like the White Sox.
P.S. And in honor of Pittsburgh week, the following statement: I know it’s hard being an Orioles fan, but look at it this way: At least they aren’t the Pirates.