In a sign that Miami’s pursuit of Albert Pujols is likely over, the Marlins shifted their attention to the rotation and signed veteran left-hander Mark Buehrle to a four-year, $58 million contract.
Buehrle drew interest from nearly half the teams in baseball, but recently narrowed his choices down to the Marlins, Nationals, and one other unnamed team, ultimately choosing to be reunited with Ozzie Guillen after the two spent the past eight seasons together with the White Sox.
Buehrle has never blown anyone away with his raw stuff, but he has a 3.83 career ERA and has topped 200 innings in each of his 11 full seasons. During that same period Marlins pitchers have topped 200 innings a combined total of 13 times. Over the past four years Buehrle ranks 10th among all pitchers in innings and 28th in adjusted ERA+, which factors in ballpark and league.
At age 33 a four-year commitment is risky, but Buehrle is coming off one of his best seasons with a 3.59 ERA in 205 innings and while certainly not as exciting as signing Pujols the Marlins can definitely use the rotation help. Josh Johnson’s health is a huge factor for the Marlins’ pitching staff, but a potential front four of Johnson, Buehrle, Anibal Sanchez, and Ricky Nolasco could be among the league’s best.
And now we’ll find out if Miami still has enough money left to pursue a fourth big-name free agent like Prince Fielder. So far they’ve handed out $191 million to Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, and Buehrle.
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.