One Thing You Know: Everybody needs pitching.
Another Thing You Know: There aren't many (good) pitchers available.
One of the teams that doesn't actually need much pitching is the Chicago White Sox, who had six starters for much of last season and figure to have five or six next season, regardless. Still, there's a pretty good chance that they're going to lose Mark Buehrle, who's been their ace for this whole century. Joe Cowley:
The Sox announced Wednesday they had offered arbitration to Buehrle, making sure they will receive some compensation if he signs elsewhere. He is a Type B free agent, so the Sox would get an extra pick between the first and second rounds of the June draft if he departs.
What has become apparent is that the Sox made a small miscalculation on what the market for Buehrle would be like. According to a source, the Sox thought that there would be five or six teams interested in him and that a two-year deal would get it done.
Well, the Miami Marlins, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals, Arizona Diamondbacks, St. Louis Cardinals and even the Cubs have given them a reality check. The list of interested teams continues to grow, and several three-year offers have come in already.
If you want another reason to be happy about the Elias rankings finally dying, after 30 fershlugginer years, there you've got it: Mark Buehrle is a Type B ... presumably because his team hasn't been scoring enough runs while he was the pitcher of record. Or something.
I don't think we should make too much of the White Sox's supposed naïveté; "a source" could mean just about anything, including nothing. But if (say) Kenny Williams really did believe the interest in Buehrle would be so tepid, he should exit the proceedings right along with the stupid Elias rankings.
Mark Buehrle is an incredible pitcher. No, he's not Sandy Koufax. He's not even C.J. Wilson. But he's been incredibly consistent. Over the last 10 seasons, he leads the major leagues in innings and his ERA+ is 118, right in line with a fair number of Hall of Fame pitchers (Gaylord Perry, Bert Blyleven, Warren Spahn, etc.).
I don't mean to suggest that Buehrle's a Hall of Fame-type pitcher; he's never really been brilliant enough for that. Neither will I suggest that Buehrle's due for a big raise; his $14 million salary in 2011 was commensurate with his abilities and contributions.
If anything, this suggests to me that the White Sox still have a shot at re-signing Buehrle. He's worth around $15 million per season, and that's around what the White Sox were just paying him. Yes, he'll probably get offered a three- or four-year deal at around $15 million per season. Well, unless the Sox think he's doing to stop being Mark Buehrle, there's not obvious reason for them to let him get away. And my guess is that Buehrle, who's been with the organization for his entire professional career, isn't particularly eager to find a new home.