MLB Trade Deadline 2013: Blue Jays Buehrle Building Value


July 30, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Mark Buehrle (56) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In a trade market that is quickly closing and teams scrambling to add quality starting pitching before 4:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time). That puts teams willing to part with a pitcher in a good position to do so.

The key part of that sentence is “willing”.

The Toronto Blue Jays have two pitchers that have been bandied about in trade discussions in the last few weeks in Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. While Johnson has pitched so pooly, he has seemingly written his ticket to stay in Toronto until the end of the season, Buehrle has done quite the opposite.

At 7-7 with a 4.27 ERA and his best K/9 ratio (6.0) in the last 9 seasons, Buehrle has been one Toronto pitcher who has been relatively consistent throughout the season, minus a couple of blips here and there. In fact, he has improved consistently as the season has progressed, becoming more and more comfortable with his new team, as seen in the table below.

However, it is what Buehrle has done over his last three starts that has gotten the attention of potential suitors. Over the course of those three starts, coming against Tampa Bay, Houston, and Oakland, Buehrle is sporting a 2-1 record, but a 1.17 ERA. That includes a string of 20 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.

That’s enough to get any potential trade partners attention, especially at this time of the year. But there is a kicker.

Buehrle is owed $37 million over the next two seasons in a heavily back-loaded contract that the Blue Jays acquired from the Marlins when they landed the pitcher last winter. That’s enough to make even the most pitching starved teams choke, as it is a heavy cost for a middle of the rotation starter, even in this market. That would put the burden on Toronto to swallow a good portion of that contract if they hope to get a decent return back.

And that’s even if the Blue Jays are looking to move him. All indications show that they would rather hold onto him as an important piece of next season’s rotation. That could just be posturing, but its doubtful that Anthopoulos would choose to move him now, knowing he would be unable get a decent return to help his 2014 club in the process.

Still, Buehrle’s name could be worth watching as the day progresses and teams become more desperate. Anthopoulos has pulled off some interesting deals in the past, so it would be unwise to put anything by him.