The Chicago White Sox enter Wednesday’s action with the third-worst record in the American League with an 18-25 record. I picked the White Sox to win the American League Central, so I think they have the talent to turn things around.
However, if they don’t turn things around quickly, they might be in sell mode rather than buy mode come July. One of the players that could be on the trade market if the White Sox continue their losing ways is LHP Mark Buehrle. Buehrle is a proven commodity and pitchers like him are always in demand.
Let’s take a look at the pros, cons, and the teams that could show interest in the 32-year-old.
As I mentioned earlier, Buehrle is a proven commodity when it comes to pitching. He’s a lock to pitch 200 innings, strike out 4-to-5 batters per nine, have a ground-ball percentage between 40 and 45 and be worth about 3.5-4.5 wins a year.
In a game where pitchers who throw 95-plus come and go, Buehrle, who throws in the mid-80s consistently, gets it done. He even has a no-hitter and a perfect game to his credit.
While Buehrle might get it done on a consistent basis, he’s not considered an ace. He’s more of a third starter type. Therefore, he won’t require a team to give up their farm system for him.
Buehrle is making $11 million this season, so if the White Sox cover some of his salary, then they might get better prospects for him, but if not, then one upper-level prospect and one or maybe two mid-level prospects should be enough to acquire Buehrle.
The Seattle Mariners were able to get two prospects for Jarrod Washburn and his $9.8 million salary in 2009 from the Detroit Tigers, so the White Sox could easily fetch three prospects for Buehrle.
Buehrle is a 10-5 player, so the White Sox can’t trade him without his permission. That could potentially be a problem if Chicago works out a trade to a team Buerhle has no interest in going to.
If you want to get picky about Buehrle’s peripherals, then he is walking more batters (2.5) per nine then ever before. The main culprit for that is hitters are laying off his pitches outside the strike zone. His O-swing percentage (percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone) has gone from 33 percent in 2010 to 26 percent in 2011.
This could be a sign that his stuff is not as sharp as it was last season.
Since Buehrle is a free agent at the end of the season, he is strictly a rental for any team that acquires him. In a day and age where teams are holding onto prospects like Randy “The Ram” Robinson held on to the 80s, will they be willing to give up two or three prospects for a No. 3 starter?
Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of Buehrle, let’s take a look at the teams who could potentially target the former 38th-round pick:
New York Yankees: Yankee starters rank towards the bottom of baseball in WAR and outside of CC Sabathia, the Yankees have a hodgepodge of starting pitchers. Buehrle would be the missing piece in the Andy Pettitte retirement puzzle they have been searching for.
Texas Rangers: Despite the strong starts of C.J. Wilson, Alexi Ogando and Colby Lewis, I am still not convinced the Rangers have enough pitching to get back to the World Series. I still think they could use an ace. But if they can’t land an ace at this year’s trade deadline, then Buehrle might be the next best thing.
Florida Marlins: The Marlins are legit playoff contenders in the National League and someone like Buehrle could help them get there. The Marlins have a solid top-three of Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez, but after them, it’s a crap shoot.
Buehrle could give the Marlins a veteran to help them down the stretch. Whether or not the Marlins want to spend the money or give up the prospects is another story.
St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals are the most logical landing spot for Buehrle if he is to get traded or if he leaves Chicago as a free agent. Buehrle is a St. Louis native and has said before he would like to play for the Cardinals.
With the uncertain futures of Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa after the 2011 season, the Cardinals are in win now mode. Getting Buehrle could add much needed depth to the Cardinal starting rotation.
Colorado Rockies: The Rockies figure to be in a dogfight with the San Francisco Giants all year for NL West supremacy and are going to need all the pitching help they can get as the season moves along. Ubaldo Jimenez has struggled so far this season and the Rockies could certainly use another starter.
Contract information is courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts