Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Miami Marlins have agreed to terms on a four year, $58 million contract with left handed starter Mark Buehrle.
Mark Buehrle is 32 years old. He’ll turn 33 by the time the season begins. For the amount of money that the Marlins are going to spend on him, he’ll need roughly 10 wins above replacement. That might not seem like a lot for a pitcher who put 15 fWAR over his last four seasons, but in addition to being 33 years old to start the season, the left hander will be throwing with an arm that has accumulated 32, 767 pitches over his career.
There are two ways of looking at that number: 1) He’s proven himself to be a durable pitcher; 2) He’s ready to fall apart. I’m not a doctor or an expert in these matters. And I don’t know which it is. What I can point out is that Buehrle, despite a declining 4-seam fastball that averaged the lowest velocity of his career this season, did what he’s always done, pitch 200+ innings at an above average level.
How he does this with the repertoire he has is difficult to understand. However, the smoke and mirrors of his arsenal also extends into his performance to a degree. Buehrle is a ground ball pitcher who benefits from the the way that baseball people look at earned runs versus runs allowed.
If we sort all starting pitchers with at least 1,000 innings pitched since 2000, Buehrle’s 3.83 ERA puts him as a peer of Ben Sheets (3.79), Zack Greinke (3.82), Josh Beckett (3.84), and Andy Pettitte (3.86). If you ignore the subjective earned runs tag and sort by runs allowed per nine innings, however, Buehrle’s 4.26 RA/9 makes him a peer of Al Leiter (4.23), Barry Zito (4.24), Randy Wolf (4.29), and Jarrod Washburn (4.29).
That’s not to say that this deal is as horrible as it might seem at first glance. He’d have to decline rather drastically for the Marlins to not get their value from him. I think that personally speaking, the initial shock of the deal isn’t that the Marlins paid this much, but that it took this much to sign him.
The Miami Marlins have now invested almost $200 million in Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Heath Bell.
For more on the Marlins financial situation, click here.