Toward the end of the 2011 season, White Sox starting pitcher Mark Buehrle was again making fun of a familiar target -- himself.
Buehrle was mocking his mid-80 mph fastball, said he was "lucky" to have pitched 11 straight seasons with at least 10 wins, 30 starts and 200 innings, and he wondered why any team would show interest when he hit the free-agent market.
It was vintage Buehrle, and guess who is having the last laugh now?
According to multiple reports, 13 teams are pursuing Buehrle.
The White Sox are on the list, although it is highly doubtful they'll be able to match the four-year, $50 million-plus contract Buehrle is likely to receive.
The Cubs also are on the list, as FOX Sports reported late Tuesday night. A source told FOX Sports the Cubs would be interested in signing Buehrle "if the price tag and years aren't astronomical."
Like the White Sox, it appears the Cubs are going to be priced out.
Buehrle can make fun of his lack of velocity all he wants, but there is no denying the 32-year-old left-hander is an attractive commodity.
Buehrle's streak of 11 years with at least 10 wins, 30 starts and 200 innings is the longest in the major leagues.
The superlatives don't end there.
•Buehrle has never been on the disabled list.
•He has a perfect game and a no-hitter.
•In 2005, Buehrle helped the Sox win the World Series while going 2-0 with a 3.47 ERA and 1 save in the postseason.
•Buehrle won a Gold Glove in each of the past three seasons.
•Since 2001 he leads the majors in five categories -- games started (362), quality starts (230), innings pitched (2,425⅓), pickoffs (80) and inducing double plays (274).
•Buehrle is the consummate team player.
No wonder so many teams -- reportedly the White Sox, Cubs, Nationals, Marlins, Twins, Rangers, Yankees, Royals, Cardinals, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays and Angels -- are after Buehrle.
The Cubs are interesting because of the Chicago rivalry.
Family is important to Buehrle, and he could just stay at the in-season home he has in Chicago if he signs with the Cubs.
As for switching over to a National League team, Buehrle also ranks first in baseball with 24 interleague wins. In 7 career starts at Wrigley Field, he is 3-2 with a 4.80 ERA.
The Cubs' interest in Buehrle could be fleeting because of one upstart team -- the Miami Marlins.
With new manager Ozzie Guillen on board, the Marlins are moving into a new stadium next season and apparently are flush with cash.
Miami reportedly has made formal offers to Buehrle, Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes and Ryan Madison.
"This is for real," Guillen told FOX Sports. "This is what (the Marlins) want. They're trying to improve as quickly as they can."
As for the White Sox, they are prepared for Buehrle's inevitable departure. As expected, Chris Sale is going to move from the bullpen to the rotation in 2012.
In 79 relief appearances over the past two seasons, Sale has gone 4-3 with a 2.58 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 94⅓ innings.
At the end of the past season, Sale talked about the possibility of making the switch.
"If that's the decision they make, I'll come ready to start," said Sale, a standout starter at Florida Gulf Coast University.
"It's just a matter of more long toss this off-season. Start throwing a little bit earlier, stretch out my bullpens a little bit longer before spring training starts. I'll do more long- distance running to get my endurance up and get my legs stronger.
"You can't guarantee anything in this game. I'll just come ready and prepared, and if they want me to start I'll give it everything I've got."