A few weeks ago, rumors popped up that the Chicago Cubs could be interested in lefty free agent, Mark Buehrle, assuming the price wasn’t astronomical. The Cubs are known to be in the market for a starting pitcher or two, so the rumor made some sense.

Then again, Buehrle, who turns 33 before next season starts, is a career-long White Sox pitcher and a life-long Cardinals fan. Would he really come to pitch for the Cubs?

Well, the Cubs must think so, because according to sources, team officials have met with Buehrle’s agent. Twice. Without going overboard, I can tell you that a team tends not to expend the time and effort necessary to prepare for, and follow through with, a second meeting with a player’s agent unless there is a hint of a chance that the two sides could put something together. It, of course, doesn’t mean Buehrle is coming to the Cubs – it doesn’t even mean the Cubs will actually make him an offer. It simple means there’s a chance.

And the Daily Herald’s White Sox beat writer, Scot Gregor, thinks that chance is a realistic one. “Rumors run rampant at this time of the year,” Gregor wrote, “but this one has some juice.” Gregor added that the Cubs make sense for Buehrle because of Buehrle’s family, and the life they’ve built in Chicago for the past 12 years.

So, what about that astronomical price thing?

Various reports have Buehrle seeking – and possibly being able to land – a four-year deal worth $5o to $56 million. Yes, Buehrle is consistently good, but is he a $13 to $14 million a year pitcher? Will he still be a $13 to $14 million a year pitcher when he’s 35 or 36 years old (as he would be in the latter half of that four-year deal)?

It’s possible. Given Buehrle’s success without an overpowering fastball (he sits in the mid-80s), the aging process may not affect him quite as dramatically as it does other pitchers.

Still, if the choice is a 33-year-old Buehrle for four years and $56 million and 31-year-old CJ Wilson for five years and $80 million, I’m not sure which direction I’d go. Buehrle has the long, consistent track record, but he doesn’t have the upside of Wilson. He’s also got a whole lot more tread on the tires than Wilson, who had his success while pitching in a ballpark historically unfriendly to pitchers.

There’s also the man to be considered. I mentioned the White Sox and Cardinals thing above, and, while they aren’t reasons not to pursue a player who you believe can help your team win, they’re not non-existent. Buehrle has been a relatively unabashed Cubs-disliker for a long time, and he’s not a particularly popular player among Cubs fans. If he comes to the Cubs and starts out slowly, how long of a leash do you think fans will give him? I don’t know for sure, but I can say confidently that the leash will be much shorter than it would be for a guy who hasn’t spent his life loving everything that Cubs fans are trained to hate.

The Cubs, of course, are not the only team pursuing Buehrle – as many as 10 other teams are interested.

  • die hard

    Once thought getting him would be good. Now feel National League hitters will light him up. Cubs should pass on this one and promote from within now that stuck with Dempster for another year. Maybe Dempster would waive no trade and go to Boston with Zambrano.

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      Generally ERA goes down when pitchers move from the AL to the NL. What are you looking at when you say that that NL hitters will light him up? I’m not all that familiar with his stuff, but there aren’t any significant warning signs that I can think of.

  • amoo22

    I would choose not to go the burhele route. Too much money for mediocre performances. We know hes not gonna gout out every 5 days and just shut teams down, he will go out every 5 days and give the team a chance to win. Not to mention 3/4 of the year last year he pitched every 6 days.

    Id much rather go something low risk high reward like jeff smardizja or someone that is already in the system to along with Garza Dempster Zambrano Cashner. or if some of those names arnt there Id love to see the cubs empty the farm system for James shields or Matt moore

  • johnbres2

    I would take Buehrle in a heartbeat, as the Cubs.  I would take him over Wilson as well, as that guy walks a lot of people, and Buehrle hardly walks anyone.  In terms of the “hates the Cubs” thing, I think fans make way more out of that than players do.  I have no doubt Buehrle would be a great teammate (as he has never been anything but on the White Sox) and the Cubs’ players would love him as one of their own.  Cub-bashing is just part of being a Sox player, as Guillen fostered.  But that would be totally forgotten with a different logo on the paycheck.  Get Buehrle.  He is a winner.  And as Luke pointed out, ERA drops, typically close to a whole point, going to the NL.  The man eats innings and is a Theo-kind of player (no walks, great defense, and tough to steal on).

  • nonesuch

    I like Mark B. He knows how to pitch with less than stellar stuff and is a true competitor, not prima donna. He’s consistent and has leadership presence. If Cubs can work hometown discount angle (if he and his family really want to stay in Chicago) and get a 2yr-3yr(option) 11 mil type deal I’d be good with it. Otherwise, I’m willing to bet someone will pay him 4yr/14mil and Cubs should not be that team.

  • Deer

    So, he basically wants Dempster’s contract. Cubs can afford his demands, especially with Demp and Z coming off the books next year. This would be a nice move, if he actually has some interest in coming to the north side and not just using us as leverage.

  • johnbres2

    btw, love that the Cubs eveidently are aggressively pursuing every option to improve this team, quickly.  The proof will be in the pudding, but one here’s the echo of Theo having said at his inauguration: “every season is … sacred.”

  • http://twitter.com/#!/hurricaneswag26 Ryne Blaising

    Just read on MLBtraderumors.com that the Cubs are looking at Bruce Chen. I guess if its on the cheap not a bad deal he is left handed and posted a 3.77 era for the Royals last year.

  • Boukou9

    If Jim Edmonds can suite up in a Cubs uniform, why can’t Buehrle?

    • Ol’CharlieBrown

      Agreed. To take it one step further…

      If Ryne Sandberg was willing to suite up in a Cardinals uniform, then why can’t Buehrle suite up in a Cubs uniform?

      By the way, it looks like Sandberg has gone back to manage for the Phillies AAA team again.

  • Raf

    I dont know what die hard has been drinking cause Mark Buehrle ‘s record vs the National league is 23-6 with 3.36 ERA soooo come down from lala land cause like the numbers show he is not going to be light up by the National league hitter ,read first about the player then comment with knowledge jajaja

    • die hard

      Its because they will see him every 5th day rather than inter-league only. You would rather Cubs gamble 60 mil when other options exist? Thinking is an exercise thats good for the brain. Try it some time. Will feel good.

      • Jeff

        Aside from CJ Wilson, Buehrle is probably the best option in free agency by far.  I know some like Edwin Jackson, but I think that signing would probably blow up in our faces.  The AL to NL conversion usually works well for the pitcher, not the other way around.

  • http://www.calliopevoices.com EtotheR

    Maybe they met with Buehrle’s agent to tell him that Buehrle is a big friggin’ doodyhead…

    Then they met with him again…to tell him the same thing.