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WHITE SOX: Putz passes on arbitration

Right-handed reliever J.J. Putz declined arbitration before the deadline Tuesday, but that doesn't mean he won't return to the White Sox if the team offers a deal that suits him and his family.

According to one Sox source -- and to the surprise of almost no one -- first baseman Paul Konerko also declined arbitration and will push forward in free agency. Unless general manager Ken Williams happens to find about $60 million in the next few weeks -- the reported asking price of free agent Adam Dunn over the next four years -- the Sox can work out a deal for Konerko, become hostages of the trade market or let Dayan Viciedo have first crack at first base.

The bullpen situation is just as cloudy. The Sox are likely to non-tender Bobby Jenks by the deadline Thursday, leaving Matt Thornton as their only proven reliever. Sergio Santos showed promise last season, as did Chris Sale, who will start spring camp in the starting rotation.

Putz, who was 7-5 with a 2.83 ERA, 14 holds and three saves in 2010, said in a phone interview that while he made the obvious decision by declining arbitration, he's taking all calls -- including from the Sox.

''Honestly, I'm just sitting back and listening,'' he said. ''I would say [the Sox are] still in play. We've had dialogue. We've had dialogue with other teams, too.''

Putz said while he would do what's best for his family, heading into a winning situation is a priority.

His longtime friendship with Thornton is unlikely to play a part this time. Thornton was influential in Putz being signed to a one-year deal with the Sox as a free agent last December.

''Obviously we're good friends, and we're working out together three times a week,'' Putz said. ''We talk, but Matt is doing his thing.''