MLB Trade Speculation: Would the Chicago White Sox Actually Deal Mark Buehrle?

Travis MillerAnalyst IApril 4, 2011

MLB Trade Speculation: Would the Chicago White Sox Actually Deal Mark Buehrle?

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    He's been their Opening Day starter nine times in 10 years.

    He's given them double-digit wins and 200-plus innings over 10 straight seasons.

    He's pitched a perfect game and a no-hitter in his tenure. He went 16-8 with a 3.12 earned run average helping the team to a 2005 World Series championship.

    Come on, he's a senior member of Redneck Row!

    At age 32, he's still got plenty left in the tank.

    But he's given up 200-plus hits nine years in a row.

    He's no longer the premier southpaw in the starting rotation, and he has struggled from time to time recently.

    He's reliable, a top-notch clubhouse guy and a face of the team every year...


    ...but he's a free agent after this season, and now more than ever, baseball is a business.


    Would the Chicago White Sox actually trade Mark Buehrle?

Simple Answer? Yes.

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    If you think just because they have one of the most fun clubhouses in baseball the White Sox goof around all the time,'re probably not far from the truth.

    But that's what happens when you've got a winning team on the field, and that's what Jerry Reinsdorf, Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen have—a team that can pound the crap out of the ball and not give up as many runs to opponents.

    The White Sox are built to be a winning team. As long as they are a winning team, Mark Buehrle will absolutely not be available on the trade market.

    But things can change. It happens every year when the underachievement bug comes and bites a team. Something doesn't click, something goes wrong, someone gets hurt.

    The business side of the game becomes more of a focal point, and as fun as the White Sox are, Williams is all business when it comes to doing his job.

    If the White Sox did not live up to expectations and were struggling, Williams would pull the trigger to deal Buehrle to a contender in July.

Where Could Buehrle Go?

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    Buehrle, who has a no-trade clause, said during spring training that he would waive it if asked.

    Reinsdorf and Williams would not send Buehrle just anywhere. They have mutual respect for each other, and they'd send him somewhere he would like to go.

    For example, the big rumor this spring was Buehrle to the Cardinals. It never had any merit, but the beloved son of St. Charles, MO coming back home is an easy storyline to sell.

    If the Cardinals can stay in the race, which is entirely possible in the N.L. Central, it could mean they're looking to buy at the trade deadline, and Buehrle will be one of the hot names if the White Sox are sellers.

    He's had success against the N.L. Central, and the National League in general, with a 23-6 career interleague record (3.36 ERA).

    His WHIP is way above his career average in Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium(s), so it's doubtful anybody in the A.L. East would be interested. He's not a strikeout pitcher and is very susceptible to being hit around in those dimensions.

    The Dodgers could be looking for an arm at some point this season. They have the prospects; I don't think Buehrle would mind a short stint in Los Angeles. The Braves are another team with the pieces to make a deal work.

    Teams will be thrown in and out of the mix when Buehrle's name comes up, but it's all for nothing if the White Sox do what they're supposed to.

What Could Go Wrong?

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    Oh, tons of things. The offense looks steady with hot starts from Gordon Beckham and Carlos Quentin—vital in order to legitimize the lineup. But, the bullpen hasn't been reliable at all.

    Completely revamped in the offseason, this group expects to be one of the elite bullpens in baseball. They aren't looking anything like it so far.

    Buehrle could get hit around, and Gavin Floyd of early 2010 might make a cameo. Jake Peavy could suffer another setback, and Phil Humber/Tony Pena/Jeff Marquez won't be able to carry the No. 5 load. Bats could cool off. Someone could get hurt.

    A lot could happen to make "all in" look silly in $125 million-hindsight, but if "a lot" doesn't happen, this team will be playing its September games for a chance to play in October.

Who Else Could Go?

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    Edwin Jackson's mechanics are pretty tight under pitching coach Don Cooper's watch, so don't expect him to fall far off track this year.

    With such a tremendous upside (he's just wild at times), E-Jax would be a sexy gamble around deadline time. He came to the White Sox late last year and posted a 3,24 ERA in 11 starts, despite a miserable stint in Arizona (his eight-walk no-hitter aside).

    Imagine what Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan could do with talent like this.

    Jackson is a free agent at the end of the 2011 season, so the White Sox could very well consider cashing in his stock to a team with the need and the resources (young pitching) to strike a deal. The Braves and Dodgers again come to mind, perhaps an A.L. West contender.

    John Danks is absolutely off limits. He led the team in all major pitching categories last year, and he's only 25 years old. He is the future of this club.

What Are the Chances Someone Is Actually Traded?

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    They're very slim right now. A lot of people will continue to get excited about this team over the coming months as they make a run at the division title.

    Jackson would be traded before Buehrle—there will be a strong market for Jackson this offseason if he performs well in 2011. The White Sox may not be able to pay him what he'll be commanding.

    If things head in that direction, the White Sox aren't going to be desperate to trade Buehrle. They aren't trying to get rid of him at all. However, if the right deal is struck that appeases both Buehrle and the front office, it could certainly happen.

    Williams also won't sell low on Buehrle, whereas Jackson's success this season dictates his value. Even if Buehrle gets hit around a bunch early this season, he will not go for cheap.

    The White Sox would trade Buehrle, but they won't.