Right-hander Gavin Floyd and other veterans could be traded if the White Sox struggle in 2012. | Lenny Ignelzi~AP
Updated: April 16, 2012 8:24AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — There’s a shelf life for the White Sox’ roster.
A short one at that if the standings aren’t to general manager Ken Williams’ liking.
That’s why the Gavin Floyd trade rumors won’t go away. That’s why Paul Konerko has been open about examining the idea of waiving his no-trade rights. That’s why Matt Thornton won’t be shocked if he gets a call into manager Robin Ventura’s office in late June or early July to be told there’s a change of uniform coming.
This is the climate after the failure of the last few seasons. Appreciate the game? No. It’s win or start packing.
“Other teams want me; they want Gavin; they want different pieces from our team,’’ Thornton said Wednesday. ‘‘Well, that means you’re pretty good ballplayers, and you’re talking about contenders that are going to go after you. This year, it’s all about winning ballgames. We go out and start winning ballgames, no one is going anywhere. Who knows what happens if we start struggling?’’
It’s obvious what happens.
Floyd has $7 million coming with a club option next season and is the best bargaining chip the Sox have from a starting-pitching standpoint. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski is due $6 million this year and is a free agent next season. Konerko is due $12 million this year and $13.5 million next season before becoming a free agent and might be the best power hitter on the trade market when June comes around. Then there’s Thornton, who’s owed $12 million by the Sox on his current deal (through 2013 with a $1 million buyout in 2014) and, like Floyd, already was shopped this offseason.
Thornton says all the right things about his stay with the Sox, and why not? He came here, was reinvented and is poised to get a second chance to be the closer after blowing the opportunity last April.
But he also wants to win.
The Sox acquired Thornton from Seattle after the 2005 World Series run.
His initial thought was, How many rings am I getting here?
Six seasons and only one postseason appearance later, the answer is frustrating.
“I’m to the point in my career where I just want to win,’’ Thornton said. “I want to win ballgames, man. I’m tired of last year, being under .500, missing the playoffs the last three seasons in a row. You get tired of it. You prepare yourself to make the playoffs every year, make a run in the playoffs.’’
That’s why Thornton isn’t sweating the pending decision on who the closer will be. He wants it, wants a chance to silence the critics who think he can’t do it, but whatever wins games.
“I’ve thought about it, and obviously I would love to have another chance at it, to go back out there and do it and do it the right way,’’ he said. “If I’m named the closer in spring training, and a month in they say, ‘Hey, we really need you for the seventh and eighth innings; we would rather have you there in certain situations and get saves now and then,’ I’m fine with that.’’
Staying with the Sox is Thornton’s first choice, but he also knows that if he’s traded, it will be to a contender.
“No non-contender is going to take my salary on as a setup man,’’ Thornton said, “so I would hope it’s a contender.’’
Maybe that ring will come.
Just in a different place.