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 first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.
Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.
The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.
The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.