Jermaine Dye isn't ruling anything out.
After all, at 35 years old and 13-plus major league seasons under his belt, the about to be former White Sox outfielder has seen crazier things happen.
"I mean first of all I could come back to the Sox,'' Dye insisted in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. "I talked to [general manager] Kenny [Williams] and negotiations could still go on. Kenny talked to me about the fact that his hands are tied as far as spending money, but you never know, I could sign for less.''
That's classic J.D., being the good businessman and keeping all doors open. Even one as slammed shut as the Sox situation actually is.
The club announced last week that they were exercising the $950,000 buyout on Dye, rather than picking up the $12 million option for 2010. Translation: Thanks for the memories No. 23.
So while Dye expressed his desire to return to the South Side, he also knows the reality of the situation. The place he spent the last five seasons, won a World Series and played the best baseball of his career is about to become a fond memory.
Sure, Williams and Dye are saying the right things, but the likelihood of a Dye return is small and shrinking.
"I think Kenny is legit with me and [free agent] Jimmy [Thome] on what he's told us this offseason,'' Dye said. "He's honest. If he doesn't have [the money to spend], he doesn't have it. Kenny and I have a friendship beyond baseball, and he will be real with me. He's not someone that will tell you something and then go behind your back.''
Neither is Dye.
Even with a window still open to negotiate with the Sox exclusively, he was already fielding inquiries from other teams. While Dye won't say which, it's no secret that Texas has had him on their radar for years, while Boston - a team that was on his list of no-trade destinations - is also a possibility.
"At the end of the day, I wasn't surprised with how this has played out,'' Dye said. "With me being with the Sox as long as I had been, if they wanted to pick up my option or do something else as far as a new deal they would have done it during the end of season.
"I have to assume that because they bought me out my services are terminated with them right now. In the future, who knows? That's a place I love and won a World Series. That's a place I'll never forget. Someday I may come back as a player or with another title. My first choice is still there, but this is a business.''
Not a pretty one at times.
During Dye's hot first half of the 2009 season, both manager Ozzie Guillen and Dye expressed their desire to get an extension done. A frigid second half in which he hit .179 with just seven homers seemed to all but seal his fate. Just like that, one of the more prolific hitters the last five years was deemed expendable.
"I don't think it's fair to label a guy as declining because of two or three months,'' Dye said. "That's just the way my second half was. For me to go through that one time in 13 years, that's pretty good.
"People said the same thing about me in Oakland when I came back from the broken leg [after the 2002 season] and played bad. What happened? I played five years of great baseball. I'll keep proving people wrong.''
And also calling his shots.
With outfielder Bobby Abreu signing a two-year, $19-million deal last week, the bar has been set. Dye knows that the economic uncertainty makes this winter a bit tricky, but also knows that a .278 average with 164 homers and 461 RBI since 2005 carries weight.
"There are a number of teams I've heard already that would love to have me,'' Dye said. "I know one thing, I will not be DHing. You can put that down. If a team wants to try me out at first base on an every day basis I'll do that. That's something I feel will be easy to learn. But as far as DHing that's not for me. Teams shouldn't call if that's their plan.''
So what happens when the offers start coming in?
"I won't go back to the Sox and say, 'This team offered me this,' '' Dye said. "I wouldn't do that to Kenny. I'm ready to be patient with this. I'm not in a rush. If a team comes and shows me on paper how we will be, we can compete and win, I'll do it early, but I want to feel wanted first.''
Jermaine Dye isn't ruling anything out.
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