BY David Villavicencio
The most active team at the Winter Meetings landed another big name today as the Marlins came to terms with free agent pitcher Mark Buehrle on a four-year contract worth $58 million.
The left-hander provides an immediate upgrade to a Marlins starting rotation that is headlined by ace right-hander, Josh Johnson. Buehrle was arguably the second best free agent pitcher on the market this winter behind C.C. Sabathia.
Buehrle had no shortage of potential suitors but ultimately settled on joining Heath Bell and Jose Reyes as the newest Miami Marlins. The veteran lefty also joins his old manager, Ozzie Guillen, in Miami.
“This kid is special,” Guillen told reporters in Dallas. “Very happy to have this kid. One of my favorite players.”
Buehrle has been the definition of consistency over his career and that is something the Marlins clearly value. Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez have all had injury issues and periods of inconsistency in their young careers. The addition of Buehrle provides the Marlins with someone they can count on to take the ball every fifth day and pitch quality baseball.
Looking at Buehrle’s numbers, it is easy to see why he is considered one of the most consistent pitchers in the game today. Over his 12-year career, Buehrle has gone 161-119 with a 3.83 ERA.
Delve deeper and you will find that Buehrle has won 10 or more games in each of his 11 full seasons in the big leagues. He has made 30 or more starts and thrown over 200 innings every year since 2001. Buehrle has also thrown two no-hitters, including a perfect game in 2009.
Are there concerns about Buehrle’s age?
Possibly, but the Marlins believe he is the type of pitcher whose track record shows he can be counted on.
Giving this deal to a power pitcher at the same stage of his career as Buehrle would be far more questionable because that type of pitcher relies on his big arm to succeed and that big arm typically starts to fade with age.
But Buehrle’s success is centered on command and mixing up pitches so he should be effective as he ages as long as his command stays sharp.
The Marlins active winter is not expected to end with Buehrle’s acquisition. The team is still looking at several free agents including C.J. Wilson and could still make trades to improve their club as well.