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.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.