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Konerko a priority with Dunn, Pierzynski aboard

Konerko a priority with Dunn, Pierzynski aboard

CHICAGO -- On a cold, blustery Thursday in Chicago, Ken Williams lit the pilot light on White Sox fans' Hot Stoves and let them go into high celebratory gear.

The White Sox and Adam Dunn agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal, pending a Friday physical, with a news conference scheduled for Friday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field, and catcher A.J. Pierzynski will return via a two-year, $8 million deal, a Major League source confirmed to MLB.com on Thursday night.

Suddenly, the White Sox went from a team apparently going young and possibly missing out on the high end free agents to one of the top American League Central teams, along with the Twins and Tigers.

This dynamic plan might receive another boost after the Winter Meetings, which begin on Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Williams spoke during a Thursday conference call about how the team's next priority is to bring back first baseman and team captain Paul Konerko but that the team is in a holding pattern as Konerko and agent Craig Landis check out the offers next week in Florida.

Adding Dunn gives the White Sox an offseason feel decidedly like that of 2005. On Nov. 25 of that year, prolific left-handed slugger Jim Thome was acquired from the Phillies in exchange for Aaron Rowand and two Minor League hurlers, one being Gio Gonzalez. Five days later, then-free agent Konerko agreed to a five-year, $60 million deal, which expired after this past season.

An overriding hope for the White Sox is that history basically repeats itself next week in Disney World.

Club needs

Konerko: With the need for a left-handed run producer filled through the signing of Dunn, the White Sox need to keep Konerko in the fold. Yes, Konerko would provide a potent one-two punch with Dunn, but his value goes well beyond his high level of production on the field. Konerko is the team leader in the clubhouse and a beacon of wisdom for young players. The White Sox might be able to gain some of his production by putting Dayan Viciedo into regular rotation, but they won't be able to replace his calm, pragmatic energy, which serves as a counterpoint to manager Ozzie Guillen's frenetic leadership style.

Relievers: In 2007 the White Sox relied on young arms to help carry the bullpen, and the plan definitely did not work. They need to add at least one, if not two, experienced arms to the returning crew of Matt Thornton, Sergio Santos, Scott Linebrink and Tony Pena. Thornton easily could take on the closer's role with Bobby Jenks' non-tender departure, and free agent J.J. Putz still could return. There also are some young arms, such as Lucas Harrell, Gregory Infante and Anthony Carter, to fill in behind a veteran base.

Who they can or need to trade

A starting pitcher: Having the luxury of six talented starters gives the White Sox an opportunity to maneuver if they so desire. Because of Jake Peavy's injury recovery and Mark Buehrle's 10-and-5 no-trade veto power, they are pretty much on the fringe of trade consideration. Williams could move Gavin Floyd, Edwin Jackson or John Danks to free up salary room and as part of some sort of major return, but he certainly won't be looking to trade any of them.

Top prospects

LHP Chris Sale, C Tyler Flowers, 3B Brent Morel, IF Viciedo, OF Jordan Danks, C Josh Phegley, IF Eduardo Escobar, OF Jared Mitchell, RHP Anthony Carter

Get familiar with these names, as a number of them could be playing key roles for the 2011 White Sox. Such up-and-comers as Escobar and Carter could help the White Sox, or they could find themselves as part of a trade.

Big contracts they might unload

Floyd (third year of four-year, $15.5 million deal); Jackson ($8.75 million in 2011)

Arbitration-eligible

Danks, RHP Tony Pena, OF Carlos Quentin

Non-tendered players

Jenks

Payroll summation

Williams presented two budgetary plans to White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf at the start of the offseason. One had the team moving toward youth, trading veterans to acquire high-end young players. The second had the White Sox adding impact veterans to the existing core. Apparently, the White Sox have gone all in through Plan B, and Williams said there's room for Konerko and Dunn, along with a potential bullpen addition, without trading anyone.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen and follow him on twitter at @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["winter_meetings" ] }
{"content":["winter_meetings" ] }