CHICAGO | Curtis Granderson was still as verbally diplomatic with his free-agent plans, including the White Sox, as he was snaring corporate or community contributor to his far-flung philanthropic efforts.
“As of this moment, that hasn’t been the conversation Matt (Brown, his agent) and I have had,” Lynwood native Granderson, a T.F. South alum, said of discussing interest from the Sox since he turned down the New York Yankees’ $14.1 million qualifying offer Monday and became a total free agent.
“At the same time, it doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened,” he said of any Sox contact with Brown that hasn’t gone beyond the preliminary stages. “The White Sox have just signed their new Cuban free agent (Jose Abreu), so I’m sure that’s been definitely on their high priority list.”
Granderson is also aware the Sox have to settle Paul Konerko’s status of whether he’s retiring or coming back in 2014 in a limited role.
“They have a lot of things they need to get taken care of,” he said, “and if the opportunity presents itself for them to engage the conversation with us, we’ll definitely be open to hear about it.”
As the general managers’ meetings took place in Orlando this week, Granderson’s name was repeatedly linked in media reports to Sox interest. However, Sox general manager Rick Hahn recently said he’d have to proceed with caution in looking at free agents in their mid-30s who might want long-term deals.
Granderson is 32.
Granderson talked about his job status during a breather from running his first area fund-raiser Wednesday night to benefit the Chicago Food Depository at John Barleycorn’s in the River North entertainment district. An hour later, the outfielder could hardly move about amid wall-to-wall attendees on two floors. Among the mob was a bevy of city sports celebs, such as the Bears’ Lance Briggs, the Bulls’ Taj Gibson, Cubs icon Kerry Wood and the Blackhawks’ Ben Smith.
On Monday, Granderson told MLB Network he wanted to go to a team that had a chance to win.
“I can say I want to play for the ‘All-Star Team,’ or whatever the case is,” he said at the fund-raiser. “But if they’re not looking for me, then there’s no reason to consider them.
“Hopefully there’s going to be a fit where there’s a need and a want across the board. Once that comes in, then I’ll have a list and I can hopefully start narrowing that list down.”
Granderson’s parents, Curtis, Sr. and Mary Granderson, had been off on a cruise, so they didn’t chime in about their son’s first-ever experience with free agency. But other family and friends throughout this city and the region have put their two cents in with Granderson about signing with a Chicago team.
“It’s been absolutely amazing being out in the community,” he said of his off-season living near alma mater University of Illinois-Chicago.
“I had a chance to go to a Bulls, a Bears, a Blackhawks game, a UIC basketball game, and at all those different games I got a chance to attend, the number of people across the board say, ‘Come back home to the Cubs’ or ‘Come back home to the White Sox.’ It’s been split among my friends.”
While looking at forthcoming employment offers, Granderson is busy raising money for the food depository at a time supplemental food stamps program has been cut for millions of recipients. He also is still involved in fund-raising for a baseball stadium and training center dedicated in his name at UIC. Granderson is reportedly donating $5 million of the $7 million cost of the project.