The market for starting pitchers this winter is a weird one. While marquee names like CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Johan Santana dominated free-agent and trade talk the past few offseasons, a lot more faith is necessary when picturing the potential rotation changers in this year's crop.
C.J. Wilson sits atop the list and reportedly has a six-year offer in hand from a mystery team, but his two-year tenure as a starter is as thin as his initial salary demands are scary. Japan's Yu Darvish could make one team very happy with his talent, but his posting process has yet to begin and it remains unclear if his divorce will prevent him from making a move this offseason. He needs to decide soon if he wants the max amount of bidders driving his price up.
That leaves Mark Buehrle, a 32-year-old lefty who once talked to Jeff Passan about an early retirement but is now entertaining a wealth of offers that will push his career earnings north of $120 million. Someone who projects as a second or third starter usually doesn't flirt with as many as 14 teams, but a thin market will work to Buehrle's advantage. Three teams have reportedly already offered him a three-year deal, though he could draw more if Wilson signs and frees Buehrle from being the cheaper alternative.
Though the competitive market will likely rob White Sox fans of the man who defined their franchise for the past 10 years, it could also help them rebuild a farm system that GM Kenny Williams has largely neglected. That's because lefty John Danks and righty Gavin Floyd are available for the right deal and Williams knows that he's currently dealing from a position of strength. So much so that he's starting the party by issuing ridiculous trade demands. No, he might not get Jesus Montero and Manny Banuelos from the Yankees in exchange for Danks, but both pitchers clearly contain value in a trade market that might also include Oakland's Gio Gonzalez, Houston's Wandy Rodriguez and Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens. With John Danks seeking a big deal for 2013 and beyond, it'd be wise for the suddenly budget-conscious White Sox to obtain a return.
The funny part is that were it not for a midseason trade to the Toronto Blue Jays last year, Edwin Jackson could be the fourth White Sox pitcher looking at a potential new destination for 2012. Jackson pitched well for the Cardinals down the stretch and could actually hold the most hidden value of anyone discussed in this post.