While nothing is official, the White Sox and their fans have to face the possibility of entering the 2012 season without one of the faces they have come to know and love over the last ten years. Mark Buehrle is one of the most coveted free agents on the market. Not because he is a 20-game winner or a 300 strikeout pitcher. Buehrle is a left-handed pitcher who will go out and give you 110% all the time and you can count on him for 200 innings and 25+ starts year in and year out. You can count on him for defense and clubhouse leadership as well. What do you do without him though?
While C.J. Wilson is younger, he had a dismal postseason. Buehrle has postseason experience, wins, and even a save in his back pocket. Rule out C.J. Wilson anyhow due to his price tag.
There are plenty of temporary solutions to fill a slot in a rotation, but none affordable enough to fill an Opening Day slot. As I’ve stated previously, I think Chris Sale should stay in the pen. I don’t think he’s built to throw 100+ pitches every five days. Zach Stewart showed some promise following his acquisition, but he isn’t number one starter status yet. Jake Peavy can’t stay healthy and Phillip Humber came back down to earth following an impressive first half of the season.
Kenny Williams can do without Buehrle, don’t get me wrong. Williams says teams have showed interest in Gavin Floyd and John Danks. The Sox can and should trade one of them only if they can get another major league ready starter in return.
It is still early and Buehrle has yet to reveal where he is leaning. Hell, he has talked about retiring after just one more year at the ripe age of 29. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes to the Marlins though. Ozzie loves him and that team seems to be taking the “All In” approach. Where have I heard that before? Buehrle won’t be taking the infamous “hometown discount” and he has no reason to take a cut in pay. He has at least five to six good years left in him. The question is: does he want to pitch for five or six more good years?