If there’s a single pitcher on the free agent market during the MLB off-season who presents the safe buy, then it’s definitely Mark Buehrle. The longtime Chicago White Sox starter has made at least 30 starts in every single season since 2001, and he was only 22-years-old at the time. He’s still only 32 and reportedly wants a four-year deal. That’s called a very good buy.
Jon Heyman reports that Buehrle’s camp has narrowed the field to five teams. Yet MLB Trade Rumors can only come up with four between all of their sources: Marlins, Nationals, Rangers and Twins. That leaves a fifth mystery team, and it’s possible that it’s the Kansas City Royals.
Remember that there are a few important things in play here already this off-season:
1. The Royals are clearly looking for a No. 1 starter.
The team has been negotiating a trade possibility with the Athletics for Gio Gonzalez and has, at least, kicked the tires on the possibility of signing some of the better pitchers on the free agent market in the hopes of acquiring an ace for the starting rotation.
2. They’ve already surprised this off-season.
No one saw the Jonathan Broxton signing and they also pulled one of the first big trades of the off-season with the Jonathan Sanchez deal. The Royals, in other words, have shown their ability to make maneuvers away from the rumor mill. If you’re not hearing their name, it doesn’t mean they’re not working something out.
3. Trading for that frontline starter is not likely.
Dayton Moore has come out heavily in favor of keeping Wil Myers, the team’s top prospect, and there’s no way a team is going to trade an ace starting pitcher without getting a top shelf prospect in return (i.e. the Braves and Jair Jurrjens). That means that free agency might provide the help after all.
There’s no way of knowing who the mystery team is — that’s the nature of a mystery. But if someone is going to try to guess who they are, the Royals actually present an intriguing option.