Several sources are reporting that Mark Buehrle is down to five finalists, and while it’s not yet certain what five teams those are, CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler is guessing that it’s the Angels, Cardinals, Marlins, Nationals and Rangers.
Andrea Comak of The Washington Times has a source confirming that the Nationals are one of the five.
Buehrle is holding out for a four-year deal and is expected to command about $14 million per season. It’d be a heavy commitment to a guy who barely manages one strikeout every two innings, but the 32-year-old Buerhle is remarkably durable and consistent. He’s thrown 200 innings in each of his 11 full seasons and finished with a sub-4.00 ERA eight times.
If the Nationals can get Buehrle, he’d lead a rotation also set to include Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Chien-Ming Wang and John Lannan. That could make Lannan expendable in the team’s hunt for a center fielder, with Ross Detwiler potentially taking his spot.
The Cardinals, Buehrle’s hometown team, are trying to trade Kyle Lohse to open up a rotation spot for the left-hander, an assignment that has gotten tougher with Lohse likely to wield his no-trade clause.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.