A couple of Chicago newspapers raised a logical possibility today: what if the impending White Sox fire sale extends beyond those who will become free agents? Specifically, the Sox have three veteran starting pitchers under contract and any of them could be traded.
Take Javier Vazquez. He’s a fine addition to any team looking for a complementary, solid, healthy pitcher. Vazquez is signed through 2010 at $11.5MM annually, about the market rate. He’ll turn 31 soon, and has no health issues. His strikeout rate is strong, his walk rate low. Granted he’s HR prone and his ERA never quite seems to match his other stats, but he’s plenty valuable.
There’s Jon Garland, who’s only 27 and has quietly posted a 3.51 ERA. I’m quite skeptical, because his strikeout rate is at a career low but his hit rate is too. That’s not sustainable. Nonetheless, he can really eat up innings and has been healthy for years aside from minor concerns this spring. Garland makes $10MM this year and $12MM in ’08.
Jose Contreras is the riskiest White Sox pitcher. Contreras earns $9MM this year, $10MM in ’08, and $10MM in ’09. His control this year has been his worst since ’04, and his strikeout rate is a career worst. He’s 35 and looks like he’s 40. He is compensating for his declining skills by getting more groundballs.
Any of these three could be available in the coming weeks. Williams might find that he can get much better prospects in return for pitchers who will not walk after 2007. Imagine what he could get if he were to package two of them. That would be almost unprecedented.