The main question looming this off-season seems pretty obvious -- where will Paul Konerko end up?
At this point, it's tough to tell. The Sox seem to be offering a contract in the area of four years at $12-13 million per year. That offer is certainly reasonable -- it's pretty much the same amount of money that first-base sluggers Richie Sexson and Carlos Delgado got last off-season, and all three are 'comparable' players.
Thome, a Peoria native with many relatives in Chicago, is owed $46 million over the next three seasons and has a complete no-trade clause. It wasn't easy for him to watch Howard succeed in his place and feel written off by Philadelphia fans and media.
There's also a situation on the East coast that Sox fans might want to keep an eye on (thanks spengler for the link).
The Yankees are believed to be offering Hideki Matsui a contract similar to what the Sox are offering Paul Konerko. Personally, I think I'd rather have the Sox offer Brian Giles a contract along the lines of three years, $33 million, but an argument could be made for any of the sluggers mentioned.