O's offered four years, $40 million to Dunn

Lefty slugger signs for 4 years, $56 million with White Sox, who have 'strong interest' in keeping Konerko

  • With Adam Dunn off the market, there are still several first base options available for the Orioles, including Carlos Pena, Adam LaRoche, Derrek Lee and Paul Konerko, to whom the team reportedly has tendered an offer.
With Adam Dunn off the market, there are still several first… (Ann Heisenfelt / AP Photo )
December 02, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

Before slugging first baseman Adam Dunn signed a four-year, $56 million deal with the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, the Orioles made a run at the big lefty, offering him a four-year, $40 million deal, according to an industry source.

It doubled the two-year, $20 million contract that Dunn signed in 2009 with the Washington Nationals, but it fell far below Chicago's offer for the 31-year-old, who has hit 38 or more homers in each of his past seven seasons.

The club has been outbid twice this offseason in the search to fill its corner infield and power void. The Orioles also offered first baseman/catcher Victor Martinez four years and $48 million earlier this offseason, but he signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Detroit Tigers.

Because it is early in the free-agent process, there are still several first base options available, including Carlos Pena, Adam LaRoche, Derrek Lee and Paul Konerko, to whom the Orioles reportedly have tendered an offer.

On the surface, it appeared that Dunn's signing signaled the end in Chicago for Konerko, who hit 39 homers and batted .312 for the White Sox last season. However, in a teleconference with Chicago media Thursday, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said he still has "strong interest" in retaining Konerko, though he is prepared to go in a different direction if necessary.

Williams expects to talk with Konerko's agent, Craig Landis, at the winter meetings, which begin Monday near Orlando, Fla. Williams intimated that Konerko might be there as well.

The White Sox made a similar move the last time Konerko was a free agent; in the 2005 offseason, they traded for first baseman Jim Thome and put him at designated hitter — showing Konerko they were serious about beefing up their offense. Ultimately, Konerko rejected more money from the Orioles to sign a five-year deal with the White Sox.

Albers nontendered

The Orioles decided Thursday not to tender a contract to right-handed reliever Matt Albers, making the 27-year-old a free agent.

Albers, who was 5-3 with a 4.52 ERA in 62 relief appearances last season, was heading into his second year of arbitration after making $680,000 in 2010.

The club decided to cut him loose instead of beginning the arbitration process and, ultimately, paying him a higher salary. The Orioles were hoping Albers would agree to a split contract — as he did for 2010 — which would have paid him less if he were outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk at some point next season.

Instead, he chose to hit the open market, though the Orioles still hope to re-sign him.

"The negotiations can continue — we just didn't want it to continue with the end possibility potentially being an arbitration case," Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said.

The Orioles have five other players who will remain eligible for arbitration: pitchers Jeremy Guthrie and Jim Johnson, outfielders Adam Jones and Felix Pie and designated hitter Luke Scott. A decision on all six had to be made by midnight Thursday.

Albers was acquired by the Orioles in 2007 as part of the trade that sent Miguel Tejada to the Houston Astros. In three seasons with the Orioles, he pitched in 146 games, compiling an 11-12 record and a 4.60 ERA.

Talking trades, free agents

As he prepares for the winter meetings, MacPhail said he is continuing to have trade conversations with other teams as well as talking with the representatives of free agents. He would not offer specifics, but the Orioles are in the market for corner infield bats, a shortstop, relievers and perhaps a veteran starter. The club has been linked in trade talks with, among others, the Minnesota Twins for shortstop J.J. Hardy, the Tampa Bay Rays for shortstop Jason Bartlett and the Arizona Diamondbacks for third baseman Mark Reynolds.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

http://twitter.com/danconnollysun

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