Pierzynski, White Sox renew partnership
Catcher signs two-year, $8 million contract to return
CHICAGO -- A busy but productive Thursday finished strong for general manager Ken Williams on Friday, as the White Sox and A.J. Pierzynski agreed to a two-year, $8 million contract.
The return of Pierzynski follows on the heels of the White Sox signing slugging first baseman/designated hitter Adam Dunn to a four-year, $56 million deal.
After adding the left-handed run producer missing from last year's lineup and bringing back the talented catcher so familiar with the team's front-line pitching staff, returning Paul Konerko to Chicago is the next target.
Williams actually spoke of how Konerko was in his sights before Pierzynski, stating during a Thursday conference call how the team was in a holding pattern until Konerko's situation was finalized.
"We certainly value A.J.," said Williams when asked about Pierzynski during the call. "He's another important piece to winning a championship and a division again in 2008.
"He's part of the mix and the clubhouse and, really, a part of Chicago. We would love to have him back. Our dilemma is if we make an overture, it could take you out of the payroll zone we need to be in and costs us an opportunity to get Konerko back or add a vital piece in the bullpen. We need to be very careful at this point."
Apparently, caution was thrown to the side where Pierzynski was concerned.
Both Pierzynski and the White Sox proved to be men of their words before the signing was made official. Pierzynski told MLB.com early in November that returning to the White Sox was his priority, but he understood that it is a business and that the process might take a bit to achieve. He also said that money was not as much of a deciding issue as being in a competitive place that is good for him and his family, and he signed for a base salary that is $2.25 million less than the $6.25 million he earned over each of the last two seasons.
The White Sox had urged Pierzynski's camp to stay in contact in the early stages of this offseason. Following ongoing recent dialogue, they came to an agreement.
Bringing back Konerko and adding a veteran reliever -- whether it's right-handed free agent J.J. Putz or another available arm -- stand as Williams' next priorities. The additions of Dunn and Pierzynski raise the 2011 payroll to $99 million for 15 players. It's uncertain whether the White Sox will need to trade a veteran, possibly a pitcher, in order to compensate for the major salary influx.
Williams basically ruled out right fielder Carlos Quentin as a possible trade piece on Thursday.
"Quentin is playing right field," he said. "[Manager Ozzie Guillen] will decide where he hits somewhere in the lineup."