Chicago White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams, asked about whether the White Sox might deal ace Mark Buehrle to the Red Sox, said:
Ah. The rumor mills crank up once more. It’s about a month away from the trade deadline, and Kenny Williams will not deny that the White Sox are looking to trade Buehrle, nor will he deny that the Red Sox are a leading option. Does "not today" mean a deal is imminent? No, probably more like, "I’m not going to answer questions about this, and since you can plainly see that Mark Buehrle is three lockers down from where we stand, I will gladly inform you that he has not been traded today."
Tony Massarotti, meanwhile, confirms the report, but says that the sides "were not close to a deal." No duh, if the Sun-Times’ list of Red Sox players "on the White Sox’ radar" is indeed some sort of Chicago wishlist (which it surely must be): Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie. Bowden and Lowrie may get a deal done. Buchholz and Ellsbury are presumably untouchable.
Assuming the rumors are for real and both sides are serious and commited to getting a deal done, would Buehrle be worth the prospects and cash required to make him a long-term member of the Red Sox? He’s 28, so the reported five-year extension would keep him here through his age 33 season — the prime of his already-impressive career. Of his six full seasons in baseball thus far, four have featured an ERA+ of at least 126. Last year was the only season below 100, and all of his numbers have rebounded to their career norms this season. He’s a lefty, already successful in the American League, with a 3.49 ERA in four starts at Fenway Park. The only down side: He’s sucked against the Yankees.
It seems he’d be worth one of the Bowden/Buchholz combo, plus a lower-tier position prospect. Presumably, Sox fans would be thrilled if either of those pitchers turned into what Buehrle is right now. It’s a matter of upside and risk vs. a known quantity. He would make the Sox’ imposing starting rotation downright formidable, particularly heading into a postseason that’s growing more and more likely. More importantly, he would be another young-but-proven presence in a rotation that projects to grow even younger in 2008 and 2009. (Beckett-Matsuzaka-Buehrle-Lester-Buchholz by the end of ’08, anyone?)
Massarotti nails it when he says: "The Red Sox may want Buehrle, but they do not need him." Being in such a position is a new — and not unpleasant — feeling. For once, the Sox don’t need to burn down the farm system to get great starting pitching. They already have it. Buehrle would just be very expensive icing on the cake.