Update: According to Scott Merkin of MLB.com, if the White Sox cut payroll as expected, it’s likely that either John Danks or Mark Buehrle will not return in 2012.
Looking at the free agent market for starting pitchers can be quite depressing. As of this writing it’s not known whether C.C. Sabathia will be a free agent. The next best free agent pitcher after C.C. assuming he opts-out is C.J. Wilson of the Texas Rangers and it’s widely believed Wilson will command a hefty price. Wilson is a good pitcher, but I don’t think he’s worth the money he’s going to command on the open market. I also think his big mouth and his troubles in high pressure situations make him a pitcher the Mets need to avoid. I also think that Nolan Ryan who reportedly loves Wilson will spend the money to keep him.
So with that in mind I looked at the free agent pool and one pitcher I like that will be available is Mark Buehrle. Now the Mets need a true ace but we’re not getting that this off season so we have to look elsewhere and Buehrle would be a nice pickup. Looking at Buehrle’s numbers they don’t set the world particularly on fire but they still do impress. Buehrle since 2000 has averaged 223 innings pitched per year. Since 2001 Buehrle has averaged 15 wins per season. Buehrle has pitched a no hitter and a perfect game in his career not to mention winning two gold gloves later in his career. Most importantly Buehrle does not have much of an injury history and I believe in the National League he can win 15-18 games.
Adding Buehrle also adds a much needed veteran arm for this rotation. We all know Santana expects only the best from himself and coming back from an injury that cost him the entire 2011 season he will be putting more pressure than usual on himself to perform like the Santana of old. I think having a veteran who is a proven winner throughout his career in the rotation can only help lessen some of the pressure that will be placed on Johan by himself. This can only help strengthen the rotation.
Buehrle will be a smart option for this team. He has big market experience as he has pitched in Chicago his entire career. Buehrle doesn’t have the greatest post season numbers but does have a World Series ring. I believe a 3 year deal would be wise to offer Buehrle. Perhaps you throw in a team option for a 4th year, though I think that is a bad idea, I rather give him some incentives to make him more money throughout the 3 years. A rotation of Santana, Niese, Buehrle, Dickey and Pelfrey and/or Gee is not the prettiest and obviously can’t compete with the Phillies, but it’s much better than what the Mets put out this past season.