Monday, November 21, 2011

Nats visiting Buehrle's home

US Presswire photo
Mark Buehrle has spent his entire professional career with the White Sox.
Choosing not to wait until next month's winter meetings to start wooing free agents, the Nationals are making their case in person today to perhaps their top target: left-hander Mark Buehrle.

General manager Mike Rizzo and other club executives are meeting with Buehrle at his St. Louis home today, a source with knowledge of the discussions confirmed. The veteran pitcher is the first free agent visited by Nationals officials this winter.

It's not known if Mark Lerner is among those who flew to St. Louis, but the Nationals principal owner has joined Rizzo on such recruiting trips in the past, including last winter's face-to-face meeting with Jayson Werth.

Rizzo spoke earlier this offseason about his desire to add another starter to a rotation that already includes Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Chien-Ming Wang and John Lannan (plus several prospects trying to force their way into the discussion). The qualities Rizzo said he was looking for -- a veteran with a track record for pitching 200-plus innings per season who can mentor the Nationals' younger starters -- appeared to perfectly describe Buehrle.

Buehrle, who turns 33 in March, has made at least 30 starts and totaled at least 200 innings each of the last 11 seasons for the White Sox, posting a collective 161-119 record and 3.83 ERA over that span. The crafty left-hander owns one of the slowest fastballs among non-knuckleball pitchers in the majors -- averaging 85 mph this season -- but his rate of two walks issued per nine innings is second only to Roy Halladay among all active pitchers with at least 2,000 career innings.

Given his track record and the thin market for pitchers this winter, Buehrle is likely to command at least a three-year deal in excess of $40 million and could get a four-year contract that tops the $50 million mark.

The White Sox are holding out hope they might be able to re-sign the St. Louis native, who might prefer to stay in the Midwest, but other clubs including the Marlins and Yankees are likely to join the Nationals in the mix.

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

First? Wow, well I think that the Nats are looking sharp in the starting pitching department: 1. Strats 2. Zimm 3. Lannan 4. Wang 5. detwilder
I think we should be spending on a center fielder with a big bat

Anonymous said...

They could probably get a center fielder through a trade. Don't see anything out there in the FA market, unless you count the Cuban guy.

But I like this move if the Nats get him, reliable and he's a southpaw. Right now Lannan is our only confirmed starter who is left handed. Oswalt carries a much bigger risk.

Unkyd said...

Be a great catch, three year only, please...

Souldrummer said...

Good post. Didn't realize that we'd snuck in on Werth like this. Any possibility the agent leaks stuff like this so that other buyers know that there's a market and the Nats know that they aren't going to be able to do cloak and dagger stuff.

Tcostant said...

It will take 5 years at $65 million to get this deal done right now; I don't think the Nats will go there.

Anonymous said...

Some might think it's ridiculous, but Burhle is a lot like Livan with more consistency. The types of pitches they throw are similar and the professionalism/leadership they show are also similar. The year Livan had in 2010 and first half of 2011 is very much comparable with Burhle's stats. So why spent 4yr/50mil when you can get Livan for less than 2mil per year? With the starting rotation they have now, they should focus on other obvious areas of need.

Anonymous said...

Yep Buehrle's a lot like Livo that is true. And he IS NOT a top of the rotation starter ... at best a #3; Jason Marquis redux? BUT he is left-handed and Livo is a righty ... however then ... what does that say about John Lannan who every scribe (but apparently NOT Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson) pencil into the #3 slot? Lannan loses his slot with Detwiler starting and Tommy Milone (another NO WALK sub-90's fastball left-handed pitcher?) Where do you put Lannan Mark? Except in a trade?

And Buehrle a good fit. A healthy Oswalt looks better IMO because he can hold down a slot in the top of the rotation. Or that elusive trade for Grienke.

Anonymous8 said...

I know NatsJack thought it would be a surprise who the Nats would get except this year it looks like the press is following his travel schedule for clandestine trips as to not be surprised like Werth last sesason.

I think NatsJack all the way back in August identified Buehrle as a good target pitcher for the Nats. Very good forethought to pick him out of all the possibilities.

It never made sense to go after Oswalt until other options were tried.

Anonymous8 said...

Anon, the Phillies have 3 #1's theoretically in Halladay, Cliff Lee and Hamels. It doesn't matter what # you give them in theory as you need #3's, #4's, and #5's also.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter what # you give them in theory as you need #3's, #4's, and #5's also.

The point is if you post Lannan in the #4/#5 slot you are blocking Tommy Milone, Ross Detwiler, Brad Peacock, Bradley Meyers (if he isn't gone via Rule 5), Sammy Solis ... and there's Stammen. That's a lot of young pitchers and of course Lannan too is a young pitcher. Peacock, Meyers, and Solis make a good AAA rotation and they haven't really completed that level. But surely you can't keep repeating Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen, and Tommy Milone at this point. They are ready now.

Its why from my perspective Buehrle makes absolutely NO SENSE. They need a top-of-the-rotation guy to push guys down and to take the pressure off of these young pitchers ... who, except for Lannan, really haven't pitched close to 200 or completed an entire year.

Otherwise, I agree, Livan is cheaper but not left-handed. If its to go against the lefty bats in Philadelphia ... John Lannan really fails there.

Anonymous said...

I believe Stammen has now been 100% converted to a reliever, so you don't have to worry about him competing for a rotation spot.

Also, another point that Mark himself has brought up here and Rizzo has said repeatedly is that if you land a Buehrle and commit 3 or 4 years to him then you can afford to deal on eof those prospects (who remember don't have a 10 year proven track record in the bigs) for a big bat or lead-off hitting CF.

We have to accept that as much as we love these prospects we've seen play at Potomac and Hagerstown we are about to step onto the same level as the big boy ball clubs and that means sacrificing some prospects for major league ready/proven talent.

jd said...

Buehrle is consistently a 4 WAR pitcher which means that at $13 mil a year he is reasonably priced but the real issue to me is how many more games than Peacock or Milone you will win with Buehrle? If the answer is 2 and the difference in salaries is $12 mil a year then we should spend the money elsewhere IMHO.

Anonymous said...

IMO, those prospects would be better spent on a Grienke, a Shields, or an Anibel Sanchez. Not Buehrle.

As for CF ... Upton likely won't put Rizzo back too much ... Borjous might be another story ... there's always McCutchen. As for lead-off I think Desmond would do if they could find a high OBP #2 like Nick "the Stick" Johnson: Derrick Norris, Anthony Rendon ... even Marerro appears to be improving in that category. So, for lead off they just need someone who distracts the pitcher on the base paths with his potential to steal.

I am of the opinion that CF is an entirely separate deal.

Sunderland said...

I've got nothing to back this up, but a really big percentage of free agent pitcher deals go very, very badly. I see a pretty significant risk with not much reward, not much true upside here. The best we get is 4 years at about a 4.00 ERA? I don't see the need for this.
I'd rather spend the money on extending Zimmerman and Morse and let Detwiler, Peacock and Milone have at it. With Stammen in the bullpen.

Anonymous said...

For Buehrle James predicts: .398 ERA/.408 FIP and a 12-11 record plus 208 innings pitched. Still sounds like John Lannan without any key walks. 45 walks against 109 K's is nothing to sneeze at ... but worth a 3 -5 year commit at his age?

Uhhhmmm no.

Anonymous said...

I believe Stammen has now been 100% converted to a reliever, so you don't have to worry about him competing for a rotation spot.

Really?

In Syracuse Stammen had 4.75 ERA, a 107 record and appeared in 25 games. 24 started. His role could be long relief spot-start but that doesn't preclude starting ... sorry.

And I think its 3.98ERA/4.08FIP above.

Wally said...

I am ok with Buehrle, but he wouldn't be my top choice. But if we get him, I think it would be unwise to have Lannan and especially Milone also in the rotation. If we sign him, I hope Peacock wins the 5th slot. They are slightly different versions of the same pitcher, and I think that it would be less than ideal to throw two of those guys in the same series, because the hitters would face similar timing issues. Also, with Buehrle, JD's question is exactly the right one. I would have Oswalt as my top choice, because when healthy, I think that he has the best stuff and track record of the available FA pitchers. But I still think Rizzo surprises us and signs Jackson.

Something tells me that Peacock is going to be a trade chip this offseason, probably for a CF. he has been getting so much positive press, and the cynical part of me thinks that a team can foster that to increase the value of a prospect. The Yanks do it all the time. Not that I think another GM makes trades on that basis, but I do think it can indirectly influence perspective.

Anonymous said...

I am guessing that the predictions for Buehrle would change significantly in his favor in terms of ERA should be be pitching in the NL in a less hitter friendly home park in 2012.

dfh21

NatsJack in Florida said...

Thanks 8 but Steve M is the first one to identify Buehrle as a target and I merely concurred.

I have stated that I felt Rizzo would surprise us all with a "didn't see that one coming" trade and I think I've figured one out.

It would be a blockbuster that would bring us a CF AND a top of the rotation guy that would really set up our rotation. Not real sure on what we'd have to give up but I can see it happening.

I'll identify the targets when it or a free agent signing happens if I'm wrong, probably just before the Winter Meetings.

Theophilus said...

"Where do you put Lannan Mark?"

In a dinghy w/ small outboard motor and a full tank of gas.

You think Beuhrle's gonna make you better then worry about where Lannan's going to pitch? Beuhrle (and I'm not excited about him) is what he is; pushing Lannan out of the rotation is addition by subtraction. What's said is that it would cost so much money (Beuhrle's millions) to force that kind of improvement.

Theophilus said...

sad, not said

Wally said...

Hey NatsJack - I had been thinking along similar lines, but Mine is based on nothing but pure speculation after just generally reading about rumors. I was thinking that Garza/Byrd could be available, on the theory that Theo would want to rebuild their farm system. I wouldn't call Garza quite top of the rotation, but he is very good. Byrd is nothing more than a 1-2 year stopgap, but still better than what we have.

Problem is that I think it takes 4-5 good prospects to get them, and I can't see Rizzo doing it while he still has a chance to sign a Buehrle, Jackson or Oswalt, and pay less for a better CF.

Now, if you've figured out how to get Haren/Bourjos, I am all ears.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Wally.... no.. not either of those.... and mine is purely conjecture but based on my understanding of Rizzo and how he likes to work.

Gonat said...

Anon @4:44, you aren't blocking players. You are fielding your best. That's what happens on good teams. The JA Happs get traded for better players.

Anonymous8 said...

NatsJack in Florida said...
Thanks 8 but Steve M is the first one to identify Buehrle as a target and I merely concurred.

I have stated that I felt Rizzo would surprise us all with a "didn't see that one coming" trade and I think I've figured one out.

It would be a blockbuster that would bring us a CF AND a top of the rotation guy that would really set up our rotation. Not real sure on what we'd have to give up but I can see it happening.

I'll identify the targets when it or a free agent signing happens if I'm wrong, probably just before the Winter Meetings.

November 21, 2011 5:43 PM

You all have done a great job collectively in identifying the right players. We all knew the FA market was almost non-existent on CFs.

Can't wait to hear your ideas NatsJack!

Still think Adam Jones could be a really nice fit as a #6 hitter. He is more of a sure thing in CF than many mentioned. BaseRef shows 2 years before FA. Not exactly a short-term rental.

MicheleS said...

Why I am okay with this (and the rest of you can light me up for it):

We need a veteran leader on the staff. JZNN and Stras are way to young to be the "Leader" at this point, CMW is still recovering and is on a 1 year deal. He spent a lot of time the last two years with JZNN and Stras, but a leader, I don't get that out of him. LannEn - enough said, still too young and depending on who on the blog is talking - they would light a match and ship him off (I think keep him, he is a lefty, and he is a #4/5), but he has not shown he is a leader (yet). Take a look at Boston to see why you need a strong leader on the pitching staff to keep everyone in line (Although I don't think Stras or JZNN is going to be a total goof off like Lackey/Beckett)

We need 1 solid Vet to show the way. Buehrle is a lefty (we need another one), he is good for 200+ innings, doesn't walk guys, fields his position, and I don't think he is blocking anyone YET from coming up to the majors. Let's face it. Stras is out after 160 (now matter how much Davey begs), CMW is probably going to have to miss a start or two, and there is bound to be a stretch were the Syracuse shuttle will be needed. I would rather have Peacock and Milone on that shuttle than Maya. AND if we had Oswalt that shuttle would be needed more! Bad Back is not good for a pitcher.

Gonat said...

MicheleS, I'm not going to light you up. Many of us have said that for a while. The Nats need a pitcher who can be another 3.50 ERA guy, get deep in the game, and be a Veteran leader and its a bonus if he is a lefty.

Anonymous said...

NatsJack, you've got me in suspense. I've been thinking for a while about how well we match up with the Whit Sox. Are you maybe suggesting one of Danks or Floyd and Quentin?

Jeeves said...

Price or Shields and Upton. Cost high.

BinM said...

MicheleS, Gonat: I'm with you in that Buehrle is a nice fit as a LH#3 behind JZimm & Strasburg as RH#1/2, and probably has a lot to offer both Lannan & Milone as similar soft-tossing LH pitchers about pitching for outs at the ML level. The critical question would be, what contract length is he looking for?

If it's absolutely more than 3 years, I think Rizzo says "Thanks, but no thanks" and moves on to Oswalt or Darvish as other options, even though they're both RH, or stays the course with JZimm/Strasburg/Lannan/Wang/Detwiler or Milone to open 2012. The team still needs two LHSP to counter PHI & ATL, imo.

sjm308 said...

Natsjack:

I want to play the game as well.
Adam Jones and one of the young Oriole pitchers??(I realize this doesn't meet Rizzo's wishes but its the only option I haven't seen yet.)
We give up LaRoche & Desmond and one of our young pitchers (they obviously don't need a catcher).

Gonat said...

I have been in the Buehrle & Crisp camp with SteveM and NatsJack when it was first mentioned. If either comes to fruition, very impressive research.

Just a very weak FA market. It appears that a CF may come from a trade and if it does, I can only see 2 that look like a fit: Bourjous and Adam Jones.

Preferably the Nats need some more RH outfielders with all the lefties in the system.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Guess the Surprise Trade
Ok, I'll play.

Pitcher + Outfielder for maybe a pitcher and catcher?
Think Oakland.

Gonat said...

Sec3, Oakland's entire starting outfield are Free Agents (Willingham, Crisp, DeJesus)

Anonymous8 said...

The Braves appear willing to trade many players including Jurrjens and you have to wonder if Bourn who is a Free Agent next year will be on the move.

Problem as I see it is most teams don't like to trade within their division.

Anonymous said...

I think that the nats will sign buehrle, trade bernadina, peacock, and lannan for yankee's brett gardner

Steve said...

Not sure what will happen with Buehrle, but you do NOT want Adam Jones on this team -- poor OB%, Ops inflated by Camden Yards, over-rated as a fielder, bad attitude, arrogant, poor clubhouse presence. Pass on this guy, if he's even being considered. And NONE, not one, of the Balto. young starters are proven to be any more than a #3- #4, at best.

Britton looks very promising, but if hitters learn to lay off that sinker down the middle and out of the strike zone, he's got nothing else.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

Gonat, their 2011 starters are free agents. They have a crop of up and comings.

JaneB said...

I just don't think we need to pay that much for a 200 inning guy. Especially since we HAD one, for way cheaper, and he could hit, too. I am curious to know who NatsJack has in mind....but I vote no on this deal. Like that matters.

NatStat said...

I think that I'll pass on Buehrle. Yeah, his stuff is a lot like Livo's, but more expensive.

Let's reinforce the farm system with Peacock, Milone, or Detweiler. The latter guy can't go back down, so is he trade material?????

Buehrle has been thinking about retiring, which is maybe what he should do.

SonnyG10 said...

A lot of good insight here...I've enjoyed reading them. Don't know what to think myself. I would be concerned with Oswald's back and the possibility he could miss a lot of time. On the other hand, he could still mentor even if he couldn't play.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Natsjack is thinking Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay DOES NEED a shortstop and an decent offensive catcher. They could also use a real first baseman. And the Nats have a decent number of pitchers to exchange for one top-of-the-rotation talent. Natsjack is also in Florida.

In other words it starts with Upton.

Otherwise, I can't see Milwaukee even though the need will be greater. No CF there.

SF might fit the bill. But Gary Brown just finished A+ ball successfully. .336 avg and a .408 OBP fits the ticket. Power, speed, fielding what's not to like? Age 23. However, he is likely the Giant's CF of the future with Melky Cabrera a short-stint stand-in.

But of course there are the angels with Peter Borjous; there's Mike Trout ready for the majors and to play CF. Torri Hunter is still there but both Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu have gotten old and the decline steep. They could use a catcher but do they replace Aybar with an Ian Desmond? Aybar received a gold glove so no ... BUT the Angels do have a guy that Rizzo himself knows well and he certainly might be able to do the job that Buehrle and CJ Wilson cannot ... and that's Dan Haren. Someone who has pitched well beyond 200 innings since 2006.

Dan Haren and Peter Borjous for?
David Price or Jimmy Shields and BJ Upton for?

Blockbuster deals that would cost the Nats dearly. A huge risk.

Anonymous said...

Dan Haren and Peter Borjous for: Michael Morse, Jesus Flores, Derrick Norris, John Lannan, Brad Peacock, Colin Balester.

David Price/Jimmy Shields and BJ Upton for: Ian Desmond, Derrick Norris, Brad Peacock, Colin Balester, Chris Marerro.

Drew8 said...

Coupla points:

Someone up there wondered about how Rendon might fare at the top of the lineup. I think he'd be dandy as a leadoff or No. 2 hitter, perhaps by 2013.

Rendon was the first NCAA player since 1998 to walk 80 times in a season. Rendon's on base percentage was -- wait for it -- .520.

Someone else took a shot at Buehrle and wondered whether he would be akin to Jason Marquis. Puhleeze. There is no comparison. Mark Buehrle has a career ERA of 3.83 and a career WHIP of 1.28. Marquis has a career ERA of 4.55 and a career WHIP of 1.43.

I have always thought that Tampa is the Nats' likeliest trade partner. Rizzo likes Upton. Tampa badly needs catching and the Nats are stocked with Ramos, Flores, Norris, Solano.

If the Nats sign Buehrle or Oswalt, it's certainly plausible that they would then deal a pitcher and a catcher (Norris?) for Upton.

Even if Desmond hits leadoff in 2012, the Nats ultimately will deal him away. If Rendon is healthy and Ryan Zim re-signs, Ian eventually will be the odd man out.

Rendon is the No. 6 pick -- a great talent with a major league deal. He is going to play. As for Zim, nuff said.

If it comes down to Desmond or Espinosa, ESPY's upside makes that a pretty easy call, doesn't it?

NatsJack in Florida said...

Well.... I am in Florida and the Rays have the two pieces that the Nats WANT and they Want to move. All I'll say is Price doesn't fit the role of a veteran and the other guy does (they don't call him "Big Game James" for nothing).

Upton could come at a discount because there isn't much market for him and the Rays would non-tender him anyway.

Remember, this is pure conjecture on my part but I'd take Shields over both Buehrle and Oswalt in a heartbeat if the price was fair.

Gonat said...

A lot of interesting early morning comments. James Shields is a top pitcher. The pricetag may be more than what Tampa got for Garza.

Wally said...

Shields and Upton? Could happen, but I doubt that we like the price. I think it would cost Morse and Ramos. We could probably also get a middling prospect out of it. I agree that Shields is better than Buehrle or Oswalt, although I like Haren better than Shields.

Tampa is trying to win now, and they need hitting and C, not back end SPs and prospects, since their system is arguably stronger than ours. Morse, particularly, would be attractive to them - great hitter, good 1B, most importantly, pretty cheap over the next two years. I could conceive of trading him, and finding a stopgap or early Harper promotion, but not Ramos and Morse together. At least not with Upton as the CF. if it was a Bourjos type, we would have to think hard about it.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Actually, I thought the price for Garza was pretty cheap considering, but you are right on the price for Shields.... it would be higher...

As for Morse and Ramos?? I hardly think so....more like Desmond, Morse, Flores and 2 prospects.

Remember, the Rays can't afford to keep Upton OR Shields so they will be going somewhere one way or another.

Again, this is all conjecture and I sure don't pretend to know how the Nats rank the value of their assets but it sure seems that the pieces are there.

And does anyone really think Morse is the future of a Nats playoff run? I like the guy and all, but his value is as about as high as it will ever be.

Wally said...

I am just not sure that package does it, although as I said earlier, Morse would be a big piece for them. I would do the trade as you suggested, assuming that the prospects aren't Peacock and Cole.

But if we are going to put Morse in a package, going for Haren/Bourjos might be an interesting exercise: would Morse, Detwiler, Norris, Lombo and Bernie be enough?

NatsJack in Florida said...

Wally... the problem with the Angels deal is they really don't want Morse (would rather sign Fielder on the FA market).

And as opposed to the Rays who need to dump salary, the Angels are in no need to dump Haren.

Anonymous said...

And as opposed to the Rays who need to dump salary, the Angels are in no need to dump Haren.

But the angels are in the CJ Wilson market. And they do need catching. Just not a shortstop which is the other commodity the Nats have in plenty. The Nats can also provide left-handed pitching.

However, losing Borjous might leave a hole in the outfield albeit Wells is signed on and has to play. And right now Borjous looks like the odd man out for Trout.

Haren and Upton are two guys Rizzo knows and likes. Borjous and Shields are obvious. Bur Wright might fit as well.

Wright over Buehrle. Harren over Buehrle. Sheilds over Buehrle. Especially long-term contract Buehrle. I think its a bad move. But I suppose the Nats have to make some of those and torture the fans with them. Just seems like we've seen enough with JimBo.

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