Editor’s Note: This was originally published across three separate posts which have since been condensed together in an effort to bring some consistency to the story. Some additional details have been filled in as appropriate. The original story published earlier this afternoon by Michael follows below, with updates coming towards the end.
2:11 PM, EST: In case you haven’t heard, the suddenly free spending Miami Marlins are currently in pursuit of superstar slugger Albert Pujols. This comes after they’ve already locked up star shortstop Jose Reyes and reliable closer Heath Bell to multi-year contracts. Those two enough will make the Marlins a much improved team, but the potential addition of Pujols would make Miami an even more difficult opponent for the Nationals to tackle. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is tweeting that the Marlins have made their final offer to Pujols. But, even if the Marlins don’t sign Pujols, that could still end up hurting the Nationals.
The top priority for Washington for much of this offseason has been to sign Mark Buehrle. However, if the Marlins cannot sign Pujols they are expected to go hard after Buehrle in order to address their need at starting pitcher, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. This could severely hurt the Nationals’ chances at Buehrle significantly, as the Marlins have showed that they are willing to roll out the cash if that’s what it takes to win. One can expect that GM Mike Rizzo will only go so high on a potential contract offer to Buehrle, meaning even if the Marlins aren’t his top suitor their involvement could drive up the price range, potentially pushing Buehrle out of Rizzo’s price range.
It is obvious why Washington is pursuing Buehrle so hard, as they could use a veteran to take some work and pressure off of the two youngsters currently atop the team’s rotation: Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. Both have had injuries in the past and their innings will be monitored closely to avoid injury again. Buehrle will be able to help cover those extra innings, allowing the bullpen to rest and maintain a readability to pitch frequently, especially the days where Strasburg and Zimmermann are pulled after 5 or 6 innings.
What am I ultimately getting at? Well, according to Jim Bowden, Buehrle has now narrowed down his list of potential suitors (once believed to be upwards of 14) to three teams and is expected to make a decision within the next 24 hours. My guess is that the three teams involved are the Nationals, Marlins, and then probably the Rangers. If the Nationals want to be the team that moves out ahead, they need to forget about their center field need for a few hours, sit down with Buehrle and his agent, and refuse to leave the room until an agreement is reached. If they don’t, expect him to sign elsewhere.
Much of the speculation has suggested that the first team to offer Buehrle four years will land him. I say that it’s probably worth it. Buehrle will be as good a 36-year-old as anyone four years from now. He’s a guy who uses command rather than a blazing fastball, his abilities will deteriorate differently than those of a a more typical flamethrower type. If four years is what he wants, I say let’s give it to him Mike.
Update, 4:46 PM, EST: The latest on the Buehrle negotiations …..
It would seem as though the third team is now out of the picture and the Nationals will square off against their division rival Marlins for his services. As I mentioned earlier, it was likely that the Marlins would focus on getting Buehrle if they weren’t able to sign Pujols. It now appears that Pujols will return to St. Louis, so here they come.
Unfortunately, Washington may have missed its chance to be the one team focused solely on Buehrle, but hopefully their loyalty to that pursuit will play a factor in negotiations. According to numerous reports, both clubs are deep into talks and there does not seem to be a clear favorite at this point.
Update 5:31 PM, EST: Regretably, this may be my final post on the Buehrle Beat …..
Just before 5:00 PM EST, Ken Rosenthal first reported that Miami and Buehrle had agreed to the terms of a contract, worth four years and $58 Million in total. It is unclear whether or not a no-trade clause was included, but it seems safe to assume there is not one considering the organization refused to add on to their offer for Pujols.
Bill Ladson of MLB.com tweeted that there was a “significant gap in money between the Nationals and Buehrle”. Oh well, guess it’s back to the drawing board for Rizzo and the rest of the front office. Is the next stop Roy Oswalt?