UPDATE: Marlins the current favorites to land Buehrle

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6:30 p.m. EDT update: CSN Chicago’s Chuck Garfien has the Marlins as the favorites to land Buehrle, a scenario that would reunite the left-hander with his former manager in Chicago, Ozzie Guillen. The Rangers and Nationals remain in the mix, and a return to the White Sox still hasn’t been ruled out.

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The hot stove is finally starting to heat up.

According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, three teams have made substantial three-year offers to free agent left-hander Mark Buehrle and an agreement could happen “quickly this week.”

The Nationals, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Marlins, Twins, Rangers, Yankees, Royals, Cardinals and Red Sox have all been linked to the veteran southpaw since free agency began, but Cowley has not been told where exactly the three-year proposals came from.

Buehrle, 32, posted a rock-solid 3.59 ERA in 31 starts this year for the White Sox and boasts a 3.87 ERA over his past seven seasons. He’s topped 200 innings pitched each year since 2001.

Buehrle is said to be demanding a no-trade clause and likely has enough leverage to hold out for one.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉