Mark Buehrle is rumored to be fielding offers from nearly half the teams in baseball and the Nationals are pulling out all the stops, with Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reporting that they’ve made Buehrle “their top free agent choice” and are visiting the left-hander at his home in St. Louis today.
According to Kilgore the two sides first met last week at the general manager meetings in Milwaukee, so today’s get-together presumably could include a contract offer.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has said repeatedly that he’s looking for a veteran, innings-eating starter and Buehrle has thrown 200 or more innings in 11 consecutive seasons, so the 32-year-old obviously fits the bill.
Interestingly, after years of speculation about Buehrle wanting to pitch in St. Louis the Cardinals are one of the few teams not linked to him this offseason.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.