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White Sox trade rumors: Low, sustained heat around Andre Ethier

Plus: Mark Buehrle could sit out the start of the season, and Matt Thornton could join him

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Andre Ethier rumor survived and advanced through a third day on Wednesday. No new sources joined the fray -- it's still just Phil Rogers backed by Bruce Levine -- but no reporters have shot it down, either.

For instance, the Los Angeles Times' Steve Dilbeck allowed that the annual Ethier rumor might have merit this year:

Ah, finally a real Andre Ethier rumor.

Inevitable as a spring blossom, but seemingly made more so this year because it can be argued this time the Dodgers need to trade him before his 10-5 rights kick on April 21. After that, they can’t deal him without his permission.

As unexciting as this rumor may be, it now has more White Sox volume surrounding it than the ones for any other outfielder this season. That isn't saying much, as the reported interest in the free agents carried significant qualifiers. Even here the Ethier rumor stands out, as the Sox' indirect negging involves Dexter Fowler instead.

Update: There's the snag!


Former White Sox report

Before the season ended, the word was that Mark Buehrle planned on retiring. Afterward, the back-channel discussion allowed for a wish-fulfillment scenario with the Cardinals. But St. Louis filled out its rotation, leaving Buehrle with only one option ...

... or did it?

Buehrle's not the only former White Sox lefty not finding a deal to his liking. Matt Thornton went on MLB Network Radio to talk about his free agency, which has been oddly quiet, now that you mention it.

Granted, the heat isn't as easy as it used to be. Thornton's average fastball dipped below 94 mph last year, and his strikeout rate suffered a worse drop (just 23 over 41  innings). Yet he held lefties to a .205 OBP for the Nationals in 2015, and he's posted a 1.98 ERA over 124 games the last two seasons, so hitters haven't said he's done yet.

That's the case that Thornton made on Sirius XM, and it's worth listening to:

If you can't listen to it, Thornton rails on sabermetrics a little, at least the part that prioritizes strikeouts above all other outs, even if the latter lead to easier innings. It's hard to fault him for that reaction, because there was nothing wrong with his results. Besides the ERA, he lowered his walk rate to a new level in Washington, he stranded a respectable 27 of 33 runners last year, and he needed the fewest pitches per inning of his career (14.3).

Now, if you look at his FanGraphs page, you see the plunging strikeout rate, the .231 BABIP, and his age (39), and you may be (correctly) inclined to think that he'd be hard-pressed to do that again. But from Thornton's perspective. he spent less time on the mound than he ever had, which would seem to be the sign of a job well done. That's why it's easy to imagine his frustration, and why he'd consider anything less than an MLB contract an insult.