DALLAS -- White Sox general manager Ken Williams spoke with free agent Mark Buehrle last week and told him how much he is appreciated in Chicago.
After discussing the Sox' somewhat surprising trade of closer Sergio Santos and characterizing the Sox plan for 2012 as a rebuilding phase, Williams had this to say of Buehrle: "I hear he is a very popular man and he's going to be richer than he is.''
And the chances of a return to the South Side for Buehrle, who is expected to receive at least a three-year deal at about $14 million per season from one of many suitors at these winter meetings?
"It's possible. It's possible,'' Williams said with little enthusiasm. "Mark and I had a good conversation last week when I expressed to him how much he is valued in Chicago. At this point, it's strictly finances over the desire not to have him.
"Who wouldn't want to have this guy. Two hundred innings, and 200 good innings you can put in the book. [He gives you] so many peripheral things. On the bus, off the bus, on and off the plane, off the field. We don't know who can catch the first pitch any more.
"It's not often a guy can accomplish all the things he did and be able to humble himself the way he did and have fun with things. So he'll be missed unless something happens that is unforeseen right now.''