LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It didn't carry the drama of Derek Jeter's talks with the Yankees, but in his own way, Paul Konerko has similar meaning to the White Sox. And now that will continue: Konerko and the White Sox have agreed to terms, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.
It is a three-year deal worth $37.5 million. Konerko will be paid $12 million in 2011, another $12 million in 2012 and $13.5 million in 2013, though only $6.5 million is in straight salary in '13, with the rest deferred at $1 million a year over the next seven years.
If the Adam Dunn deal fleetingly looked like it could spell the end for Konerko in Chicago, who has been a fixture at first base on the South Side since 1999, the White Sox made sure to communicate to him nearly as soon as the four-year, $56 million deal with Dunn was done that they wanted him back.
"When I talk about Paul Konerko, I first have to talk about the first-class person he is," White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said. "Believe me, that factors into our equation when we make a commitmentof this nature.
"One thing Craig Landis [Konerko's agent] and I talk about all the time is the type of guy he is not just on the field, but in the clubhouse, on the team bus, in the hotel.
"This is certainly about talent, but the message to young players out there is if you conduct yourself in this type of manner, something like this could happen."
Though talks briefly turned rocky Tuesday, it has been considered a fait accompli that Konerko would return to Chicago. He is one of owner Jerry Reinsdorf's favorite players, and he's been a cornerstone of the franchise for more than a decade.
"Paul Konerko has good teammates," Williams said. "One thing that helped us get this done was Adam Dunn caring more about winning than about getting the last dollar this year. He was more than accommodating in moving some of his money to the back of his deal. A.J. Pierzynski did the same thing."
Konerko had talked with a handful of other clubs, including the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers.
The D-backs were hoping that the fact that Konerko lives in Scottsdale might sway him in their direction.
"I think he would have looked awfully funny in another uniform at this point," Williams said.
At 34, Konerko is coming off of his strongest season in years in 2010. An All-Star for the fourth time, Konerko slammed 39 home runs and collected 111 RBI in '10, his best power numbers since 2005-2006. He also hit .312 with a .393 on-base percentage. He was fourth in the AL with a .977 OPS and finished fifth in this year's AL MVP balloting.
Konerko and Dunn are both expected to see time at first base and designated hitter.
As for the White Sox, Williams says they're about "tapped out" money-wise. He intends to add bullpen help, but that likely will be via trades.
"We'll take a look at a third left-handed situational guy," said Williams, who already has lefties Matt Thornton and Chris Sale in the pen. "Someone who can get Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer [of the Twins] out."