Living in Chicago, I am currently enduring on the worst White Sox seasons of recent memory.
It seems like just yesterday Juan Uribe was throwing Orlando Palmeiro out at first to bring the White Sox their first World Series title in 88 years. Flash forward nearly a season and a half later and the Sox are currently 29-42 sitting back of the first place Tigers by nearly 14 games. Oh how quickly things change.
Over the last few weeks the Mark Buerhle trade rumors have really started to heat up. Yesterday Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported the Red Sox have inquired regarding Buehrle's availability and that any extension talks between he and the White Sox have died.
Let's not beat around the bush here; Mark Buehrle's time with the White Sox is limited and he's probably going to be traded sooner rather than later.
Ken Rosenthal also claimed yesterday at least ten teams are interested in Buehrle's services, let's take a look at the teams we are certain have inquired:
Boston Red Sox:
I'm Cowley's post that I linked above, he mentions that the Red Sox are the front runners to acquire Buehrle. Is it just me or is this rumor just a little perplexing. Curt Schilling is currently on the disabled list, but with Jon Lester returning to the major leagues soon, the Red Sox starting rotation could be set at Schilling-Beckett-Matsuzaka-Wakefield-Lester in a couple of weeks sporting a pretty productive looking rotation and shifting Julian Tavarez back to the bullpen. Not only that, but the Red Sox are currently third in the American League in SNLVAR at 10.8, meaning the acquisition of Buehrle would rate more as a luxury than a necessity.
Still, there has to be reasons as to why the Red Sox would inquire if Buehrle wasn't needed. Perhaps the Red Sox believe both Tavarez and the struggling Tim Wakefield would pitch better in the bullpen. Perhaps the team is still concerned with Lester's future in the rotation this season. Whatever the case, I'm confident the Red Sox would not make a run at Buehrle unless they were certain he was needed.
The White Sox outfield situation is a complete mess. Jermaine Dye is a free agent following this season and his name has been rumored to be on the block, whereas Scott Podsednik, Darin Erstad, Rob Macowiak and Luis Terrero are not long-term solutions. It seems very likely ChiSox GM Kenny Williams would show interest in outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury who should be ready for the major leagues along with pitching prospects Michael Bowden, Clay Buchholz and infielder Jed Lowrie as Cowley reported. The White Sox bullpen also rates as one of the worst in the major leagues (-0.734 WXRL) so don't dismiss Williams possible interest in a guy like Craig Hansen or Manny Delcarmen.
Williams claimed a few weeks ago that the White Sox wouldn't be trading for prospects, but there are a number of players in the Red Sox organization that the White Sox could use.
Certainly a team doesn't want to overpay for a end-of-the-season free agent like Buehrle only to watch him sign with another team this upcoming winter, but the Red Sox are a team that could afford to extend him so keep an eye on this one.
Ken Rosenthal broke the news of this one yesterday afternoon and I have to admit, it really grabbed my attention.
I have to agree with Rosenthal however that it ultimately seems like a major longshot.
It seems logical to believe the White Sox would show the most interest in both Yovani Gallardo and Ryan Braun if trade talks started to heat up, but as we all know those two are about as untouchable as they come.
Corey Hart also seems like a rational solution to the White Sox outfield situation, but with the way he's been playing this season, he too would be tough to acquire.
The Brew Crew isn't necessarily a team strapped with cash, so you have to believe they'll trade for Buehrle only if they are certain they can extend him and that like this rumor seems like a longshot.
Keep an eye on it though. A move for Buehrle would bolster and already impressive rotation and would probably move former college closer Dave Bush and Claudio Vargas to the bullpen so a trade for Buehrle does make sense for Milwaukee.
New York Mets:
The Mets have been interested in Buehrle for over a year now and this might be there best chance at acquiring him. Given the uncertainty of Pedro Martinez' return to the rotation and the mediocrity of Jorge Sosa, trading for Buehrle makes sense for the Mets who are only 3 games in front of the Phillies in the National League East. The Mets rotation has been very good this season, they're currently second in the N.L. in SNLVAR at 10.5, but they're showing the desire to acquire a frontline starter and distance themselves away from their division foes.
Lastings Milledge is currently injured still playing at the AAA level and like both Ellsbury and Hart, he makes a ton of sense for a team like the White Sox. Carlos Gomez, Phillip Humber and Mike Pelfrey are other guys Williams would probably show interest in.
St. Louis Cardinals:
This one should be expected despite the fact the Cardinals probably aren't going to reach the postseason this year. Buehrle has stated on numerous occasions that his dream is still play for the St. Louis Cardinals regardless of the fact he doesn't want to be traded.
Like the Brewers rumor however I just don't see St. Louis as a likely destination for Buehrle this season.
The Cardinals don't have much to offer in terms of young talent. Williams would probably show interest in Anthony Reyes, but his value is incredibly low, and it's very unlikely the Cardinals deal 20-year old outfielder Colby Rasmus, one of their only "true" prospects.
Jonathan Jay however is a PECOTA favorite and he's another guy that would make sense for the ChiSox so don't dismiss this rumor just yet.
Williams has a ton of respect for Mark Buehrle and this is the team Buehrle would probably prefer to play for most, so if Williams can strike a deal that makes sense for both Buehrle and the White Sox it could happen here.
Cowley also reported that the Braves were interested in Buehrle so let's take a look at a possible scenario here.
The Braves are only 4 games back of the Mets in the N.L. East, but they have struggled mightily in June and Buddy Carlyle is their number five starter so you can see the motivation in trying to acquire a starter like Buehrle.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a guy whose name consistently pops up in trade rumors and I suspect the Sox would show interest despite the fact A.J. Pierzynski is signed through 2008.
I also suspect the Sox would show interest in guys like Eric Cambell and PECOTA favorite Elvis Andrus as they are looking for long-term middle infield solutions as well.
Rosenthal also specifically mentioned the Mariners as a possible suitor so what do they have to offer.
The recurring theme I keep hearing out of Seattle is that a frontline starter must be brought in to take some of the pressure off Felix Hernandez and that Buehrle might just be that guy.
The Mariners are right there in the A.L. Wild Card race, sitting three games behind the Indians and they haven't got much production from their number five starters, namely Horacio Ramirez, Cha Seung Baek (both of whom are on the DL), or Ryan Feierabend. Buehrle would make a good fit in Seattle.
A scenario I haven't come across yet, and I'll admit I'm a bit surprised of it, is an Ichiro for Mark Buehrle swap straight up.
The Sox would probably love to acquire 22-year old Adam Jones, who is currently hitting .316/.389/.589 in AAA, but like Braun and Gallardo with Milwaukee, he's likely off limits.
The Mariners aren't likely to retain Ichiro this winter, he would make a perfect fit with the White Sox and Jones could replace Ichiro at the big league level in Seattle, so an Ichiro-Mark Buehle swap does make a little sense.
It does seem unlikely to me, the Sox could just sign Ichiro this winter if they really want him, but the Mariners don't really have any one prospect outside of Jones the White Sox would show heavy interest in.
These are the six teams I have heard mentioned as specific suitors for Buehrle around the web; the other four or so suitors in the race I'm assuming are darkhorses.
Judging by the names mentioned, I think the Red Sox are the likely suitors for Buehrle, but I also think the Mets have solid chance at acquiring him if they really want to. Like the Red Sox, they have the pieces needed to trade for him.
Regardless as his most likely destination, Mark Buehrle is the hottest name in trade rumors circulating around the world of baseball and it's looking more and more likely by the day he's traded well before the July 31st deadline.