The most popular starting pitcher on the free agent market might be Mark Buehrle. Several teams — including the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Nationals and Marlins — have shown interest in the 32-year-old left-hander since baseball’s shopping season began. The Detroit Tigers can now apparently be added to the list of pursuers.
According to the Detroit News’ Lynn Henning, the Tigers have also inquired about Buehrle. If that’s the case, they can get in line with what’s reported to be as many as 10 teams interested in his services. That could make him an expensive acquisition.
But if Detroit feels it needs a veteran, innings-eating starting pitcher, preferably one who pitches left-handed, then Buehrle would do more than keep a seat warm until Jacob Turner is ready for the majors. He’d be an excellent addition, giving the Tigers arguably the deepest starting rotation in baseball.
Three weeks ago, Buehrle was at the top of my list of five free agents the Tigers should pursue. Here’s what I wrote at the time:
Buehrle has won 13 games in each of the past three years. He’s made 30 or more starts and pitched more than 200 innings in every one of his 11 full major league seasons. His career ERA is less than four runs, pitching in the American League. And over his career, Buehrle has averaged two walks per nine innings. He’s like a left-handed Doug Fister. Actually, he’s more like a pitching version of Victor Martinez. Solid. Consistent.
Signing Buehrle would also have the added benefit of weakening the Chicago White Sox. Not to mention that he’s been rather successful against Detroit during his career. (Well, except for that Sept. 4 start in which he gave up eight runs and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings.) In the past, Buehrle sounded as if he’d prefer to stay in Chicago or go pitch for his hometown Cardinals. But neither may be a viable option now, especially when at least four other teams are reportedly interested in him, three of which are arguably the top clubs in the AL.
However, Bless You Boys brings up an interesting observation about Buehrle, via Fangraphs. His ERA numbers (3.59 this past season, 3.83 for his career) may not be completely accurate. Given the number of hits and home runs he regularly gives up, he likely maintains a low ERA due to fielders making errors behind him. Those runs end up scoring, but are scored as unearned runs.
That may be something to consider if the bidding for Buehrle gets higher than the Tigers would like. Reports say that the left-hander is looking for a three-year deal.