After making a run Tuesday night, the sense on Wednesday is that the Miami Marlins are basically out on Albert Pujols. Not out completely, but the underdogs. Yet Pujols wasn't the only free agent who had captured the Marlins' interest. The Marlins were also recently declared a finalist for free agent starter Mark Buehrle, and according to Ken Rosenthal, the Marlins done locked him up:
Buerhle to #Marlins: 4 yrs, $58M.
The news has since been confirmed by Jon Heyman. The Marlins were known to have offered Buehrle three years in the $36-39 million range before; they presumably beat out the Washington Nationals by guaranteeing a fourth year and a higher salary.
By signing Buehrle, the Marlins are expected to pull out of talks with C.J. Wilson, leaving him most likely to sign with the Angels. Buehrle joins Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez at the front of the Marlins' rotation.
Buehrle's also reunited with old Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, which might or might not have been a factor in his decision to sign. Maybe Guillen's presence drove Buehrle's price down. Maybe Guillen's presence drove Buehrle's price up. Maybe it had no effect at all!
Buehrle is 32 years old, and he'll be 33 in March. He's left-handed, and he's been as steady as they get, surpassing 200 innings every year since 2001. He has a career ERA+ of 120, and an ERA+ of 113 over the past three years. Based on his history, Buehrle seems predictable going forward. Predictably effective.
Of course, that's not the way things work. Buehrle's history is a positive indicator, but he is getting into his mid-30s, and his strikeout rate is perilously low. There's good reason to be concerned about the end of this contract. There's good reason to be concerned about the start of this contract, kind of.
Still, Buehrle's a prize, and he's the Marlins' prize, just like Heath Bell and Jose Reyes and God knows who else. It's worth noting that Buehrle is probably the best defensive pitcher in baseball, so he helps himself out. It's also worth noting that the new Marlins ballpark is expected to be pitcher-friendly - way more pitcher-friendly than where Buehrle's been playing his home games - which, along with the league change, should help keep Buehrle afloat.
So that's that, and now we'll-