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Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Miami Marlins have signed Mark Buehrle to a four-year, $58 million deal (whew!). Finally, a major move at the Winter Meetings. (Jose Reyes signed on Sunday.)

The signing is relevant ’round here for any number of reasons, but they include:

(1) The Cubs were briefly in on Buehrle;

(2) The Marlins are less likely to need another starter like Carlos Zambrano now; and

(3) The Marlins are probably out on Albert Pujols (as was already believed to be the case).

The move could start a domino effect on other free agents, including CJ Wilson.

Buehrle, who was sitting on a few three-year offers, was clearly waiting on a four-year offer before signing. Once the Marlins scaled back their pursuit of Albert Pujols, they tacked on the fourth year, and nabbed Buehrle.

The deal is considerable, but, given the number of pursuers, it’s not outrageous. I’d be surprised if it isn’t heavily backloaded, like Jose Reyes’ deal was.

UPDATE: A thought on number two above. It occurs to me that signing Buehrle doesn’t necessarily take Zambrano off the table for the Marlins. Consider this: Ricky Nolasco is scheduled to make $9 million in 2012 and another $11.5 million in 2013. Might the Marlins look to move him in order to save some salary? If so, they might look to pick up someone like Z, whom they could theoretically get for a very low salary (i.e., with the Cubs eating a substantial portion of the $18 million he’s owed).

  • Matt

    Just saw that, and honestly I’m fine with it given he’s not a cardinal.

    Winter meetings have been a dud so far, let’s hope Pujols signs and the dominoes begin to fall.

  • Fishin Phil

    “I’d be surprised if it isn’t heavily backloaded, like Jose Reyes’ deal was. ”

    Did Jim Hendry get a job in the Miami front office??

    • Kyle

      Heavy backloading is the only smart thing Hendry ever did. You should always take as much backloading as the player will let you get away with.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        As long as you have an owner that understands and modifies the budget year-to-year accordingly.

        • hansman1982

          or you dont set it up where ALL of the backloading comes due in a 2-3 year span so you tie up 1/2 your payroll in aging vets and have virtually no young, cheap talent to fill in around them and the player doesnt get a higher overall contract due to the backloading…

          You know what, go into the message boards and find my post about this.

  • CubFan Paul

    yikes@$14.5M per year

  • Spencer

    CJ Wilson is gonna get PAID. Looks like Pujols is going back to STL now.

    Stewart/Colvin deal still possible, but is that really helpful given how much more money Stewart is owed? Moving Marmol also looks less likely because of what the Padres did this morning. One less suitor for Z now also, as you articulated. If Cubs don’t sign Fielder, they might get shut out of any major moves.

    • EQ76

      I’m eager to see our brainiacs we’ve brought in to start doing something… this is so boring..it’s like watching a movie that starts off slow but is supposed to be great and waiting for it to get good!

      • Lou

        I’m not sure Theo knows what he’s doing this year. I remember watching him talk about the Cubs, the future, and the CBA and his body language showed anxiety and facially he showed some panic. Think the CBA has totally befuddled him. Not sure what we’re going to do but this team has a LOT of holes to fill regardless of whether you fill 1b with Fielder, Sanchez, or Adam LaRoche, for that matter. If he stays the course I see two 100+ loss team in Theo’s future.

        • MightyBear

          Theo knows what he’s doing. You notice who else has been conspicuously quiet, Yankees and Red Sox. The Cubs are building for the future. Can’t give out these long term deals and end up with players past their prime and still owed millions and millions of dollars and no where to move them (See Soriano, Zambrano). You make small deals and build the system up. That’s what you’ll see from the Cubs this year.

          • Lou

            Well, I hope all those prospects pan out. As Theo said, the team has to have “exact precision” on two or three players for the rebuild to be successful. I hope he finds them in next year’s draft.

        • Rancelot

          Are you people serious? Either you have been listening to too mcuh sports talk radio or die hard is rubbing off on you. You cannot turn water into wine…I don’t care what anybody says but this franchise has very little valuable parts that other teams are looking for so if you are looking for some lopsided deal to fall in our laps you will be waiting a long time. The days of the classic Hendry “fleecing the poor” deals are over. Practice a little patience and things will play out. If you have lost faith already in the new regime, it might be time for you to follow another team. Good grief!!!

          • Lou

            So who’s gonna drive in runs next season, smarty pants? Let me guess you’re praying for a Gaby Sanchez trade. Who’s going to correct the worst ERA in the NL last season. Remember Zambrano didn’t just quit on the team, he posted career lows in most pitching categories. Who’s going to improve the worst defense in the NL, the remaining players? Not diehard. Diehard would be advocating a Soriano for Gio Gonzalez swap.

            • Rancelot

              Wow…you are serious. I’m not sure what push button front office you are akin to, but a dose of realism is what you need. The market is just now rounding into shape. How about this, if NO moves are made by the beginning of Spring Training, I will join you chicken little the sky is falling club. Smarty pants? Really?

              • Lou

                So Bryan LaHair is your #4 hitter for next year. Realistically, that doesn’t sound too good? And he very well could be? So, how do you correct the problems I’ve mentioned, then, realistically speaking?

                • Rancelot

                  Settle down! Did I miss the memo that the season starts next week? Ye of little faith. Like you, I have no idea what this team will look like next year outside of Starlin Castro, David DeJesus, and Kerry Wood…but there is not a trade embargo that goes into effect post Winter Meetings or a period where the Cubs are not able to sign any FA’s. Like all teams, they have a plan…let the dust settle before passing judgement on what 25 man roster will look like come April 4, 2012.

                  • Lou

                    Problem is we’ve got SO many holes to fill. Look if you think I’m part of the old Hendry regime fanbase, I’m really not. When I hear Theo talking about the dire need for SP, then I see Chatwood get traded for not much to the Rockies, the Rockies pick up Slowey for “a player to be named later, and Bedard signs a bargain contract with the Pirates, I’m allowed to wonder a little what’s going on. Aren’t I? I mean, would you compare any of those moves to what Hendry did or the Marlins are doing??? Not exactly big contract moves, are they?

                  • die hard

                    dont count on Wood yet…knees do not always heal as players age

        • die hard

          Oops, you broke rules No. 1 and 2 also. Is a consensus beginning to form?

          • Rancelot

            Funny ha ha…whining, bitching, and moaning about lack of movement over a 3-day period does not constitute constructive criticism. Let’s not forget, it’s not Theo the show monkey where you ask him to perform by command…these things take time and the new regime has been in place for barely even a month. I am seriously losing faith in the Cubs “faithful fan base”.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I don’t think folks are being too bad, but yes: this could have always been the plan. In fact, this is kinda what Theo said would happen – not looking to make splashy moves unless it’s the “right” move. Can’t say I’m upset at anything the Cubs have actually done or not done yet.

              • EQ76

                For me, I’m not mad at our management team, I’m BORED!!! I was soooo excited going into this week because I expected something to happen.. not major moves, but something.. I really expected us to move a player or two or make the Headley trade.. but this has been the Marlins & Dodgers show with everyone else sitting back and watching.. BORING!!!!

                • Toosh

                  I second that emotion.

            • Lou

              Like I said who’s going to drive in runs. If the Marlins don’t sign Fielder and the Blue Jays and Mariners don’t either and the Nationals sign him to a 5-7 year deal, as a Cubs fan, I’m little angry. You can’t trade for that kind of offensive production, it won’t be on the FA market for years to come, and it could come through the draft–but what if the Cubs go the SP route with the #6 pick next year? I suppose you’re ok with that and with losing interest in baseball by June for at least the next two years.

              • EQ76

                yep.. of course we have no idea what’s really going on behind the scenes.. I felt this way last year when we failed to get Adrian Gonzales.. because I knew he’d be a better fit for us than Fielder or Pujols.. That’s the move I wish we could have made!

                • Lou

                  Yeah, in total agreement there. He’s definitely worth a 6-7 year deal.

      • die hard

        Rule No.1 cant criticize the front office.
        Rule No.2 see Rule No. 1

        Whats your complaint anyway? Cubs have a lead off man now, a computer savvy mgr, and a reformed Big Z . These are 3 things Cubs didnt have last year. The boardroom chart is pointing up and next goal is to cross the 200 day moving average.

        • Hawkeye

          Did I just read this correctly?  It is almost as if you are being supportive of the Front Office.

          • Lou

            I think it’s called badly misplaced sarcasm.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Rule No. 1 – Offer thoughtful, well-written comments.
          Rule No. 2 – Don’t be a donger.

          Those are the only rules.

          • hansman1982

            I would say it is time to hold a BN Constitutional Convention and add a 3rd rule:

            3. – You MUST own a BN Thong to post here

          • EtotheR

            Donger? Screw that…I’m out.

        • Dougy D

          Unfortunately, we did have a “reformed” big Z last year. It worked out REAL well for us.

          • BetterNews

            Is that the “reformed”+”reformed”+”reformed” Z?

  • die hard

    How are the Marlins going to pay these new contracts? Do players protect themselves against a team’s inability to pay by taking out an insurance policy or fidelity bond or something like a “swap” similar to mortgage swaps? Or is a team required to purchase such protection for each player? There must be a MLB mechanism in place because a small market team like the Marlins average game attendance even with a good team will not likely exceed 20000. Also, cant imagine there being a huge television contract. Wheres the money coming from?

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      They’re expecting a lot more revenue to come from the new ballpark they open in the spring.

    • Eric

      As in the case with most businesses and rich people who aren’t really rich. The Florida Marlins money is coming from Florida tax payers no doubt. While fox lies says ooww look at all those welfare ppl stealing your money. As usual, it’s the rich who steal most of your tax dollars.

    • MoneyBoy

      The Marlins averaged 1,500,200 from 2000-2011.  High of 1,823,400   Low of 813,118

      The new park has a retractable roof and 37,000 capacity

      • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

        And, most importantly, isn’t a football stadium. That means the Marlins should get all of the parking and concessions revenue. I’m not sure that was the case in their old stadium since they shared it with the Dolphins.

        The financing terms on the new stadium are nice, until the 2030s or 2040s when the payments really start to step up.

  • Corey

    This signing is not good for the Cubs. Buehrle to the Marlins likely means they won’t be getting Pujols or Fielder, which, in theory, takes another first basemen off the market (Gaby Sanchez). The Pujols camp may have also just lost some leverage to get as much money from the Cardinals as possible.

    It probably decreases the Marlins interest in Z, like you mentioned. This also increases the odds of the Cubs going into the season with Stewart/LeMahieu/DeWitt/Baker as their starting third basemen. The Padres acquisition of Street made it less likely to attain Headley and if the Marlins no longer view Zambrano as an option, then Dominguez probably won’t be headed to the Cubs either.

    This also drives up the prices for starting pitchers too. 14.5 million for an average/barely above-average pitcher is ridiculous.

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      On the other hand, there are no indications that the Marlins aren’t looking to add another arm. Zambrano on a deal in which the Cubs pick up the check in exchange for good talent in return would be an attractive option for them.

      This deal should also enhance the value of Garza and Wells, should the Cubs choose to move either of them.

      And, according to many folks on Twitter, the Marlins are still after Fielder. Don’t take Sanchez off the market yet.

      For that matter they are still after Wilson, too.

  • jtfromthed

    Hah, just seen on twitter that Marlins are still pursuing both Fielder and Wilson

    LOL, in a few years when they still aren’t filling their park this will get comical.

    • EQ76

      Wow, Marlins are the Yankees of the NL.

    • TWC

      “LOL, in a few years when they still aren’t filling their park this will get comical.”

      You misspelled June.

      • EtotheR

        :) :) :)

        • Dougy D

          Nice!!!

  • MightyBear

    The Marlins situation looks very much like the Cubs when they were getting ready to sell. Get a bunch of good players, make news, back end load the contracts, sell the team, who cares after that. I wonder if that goofy owner is going to sell that team in a few years. I bet that’s his plan.

  • John

    Mark Buehrle for 4 years and 58 million to me is way to much, I’m glad the Cubs didn’t sign him. I think this off season could really backfire on the Marlins they got a relief pitcher whos a bit over weight, got a vet in Buehrle whos on the decline and then you get a star shortstop who cant stay healthy for 162 games. Im just glad its another team over spending and not the Cubs.

    • EQ76

      so they’re us a few years ago!

  • MoneyBoy

    14.5 million for an average/barely above-average pitcher is ridiculous.

    HUH??  He’ll be 33 next March, has averaged 13.5 wins/yr, 206 innings/yr, and 30.5 starts/yr, career WHIP of 1.282 … It’s a lot … but the feeling was he’d get an average of $14 something per

    • die hard

      Marlins hoping they have next Cliff Lee? Burliegh used to be above avg but no more and only one Cliff Lee. If Cubs couldve signed him to 3 yrs at base of 5 mil/yr with incentives maybe wouldve been reasonable.

      • Pat

        There’s not a chance in hell you get him for 5 mil a year plus incentives. 14/yr is right about what most people expected.

        I’ll tell you what, I’d much rather have Buerlhe at 14.5 than Dempster at 14. It’s also likely to turn out as a better deal than whoever gets CJ Wilson (simply because they are going to have to lock in for around 6 years).

        Yes, it’s a ton of money. But that’s what you have to do in free agency. Theo can talk all he wants about paying for future performance, not past. If he sticks to his guns on the subject the best free agents he will get will be the DeJesus types.

        That’s why you need a strong farm system. Because you will ALWAYS overpay in free agency. Unless you’re talking a one year, reclaimation project type deal.

    • JulioZuleta

      Mark Buerhle has never been a spectacular pitcher. As an avid White Sox hater, he has been the one guy I have always respected from the other side of town, but he has been relatively overrated. Don’t confuse incredibly reliable and consistently solid (which is what he always has been) with an Ace or perennial Cy Young candidate (what he has never been). While I will say that the age issue is less important with pitchers of his style, 14.5 a year over 4 years is insane.

  • MikeL

    You know, with these first two or three insane contracts flying around….I am glad Theo and Jed and holding off on making any signings. These are–at the very best–risky contracts. I would also have a problem giving a 10 year contract to anyone on the wrong side of 30….I think a lot of people out there want to see the Cubs do something just to do something, but I am glad they didn’t sign any of these guys to the reported contracts.

    • Jim

      I agree, I a lot of fans still have the mentality of the Hendry era lingering…it’s going to take some time to not only change the culture of the team but also how fans think about trades, free agent signings, etc.

  • Barney S

    I KNOW we talked about how moving Castro to 3rd would be a terrible idea, I agree….but what about moving him to 2nd and having Hanley Ramirez at SS? I mean Castro’s defensive problem isn’t his glove or range, it’s his arm. So moving him closer to 1B would help out his arm…..right?
    Trade Hanley for Z, I mean, not bad….right? It seems like it could be pretty legendary to me!

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      His defensive problem is experience. Moving him won’t help that.

      His arm is fine. He just needs to learn what throws to make and when to hang onto the ball, when he can set himself and when he needs to throw on the move, and so forth.

      His range would probably play better at second than third, but his arm would be completely wasted.

      • MoneyBoy

        Agreed Luke … and all were improving (IMO) as the 2nd half moved along …

      • die hard

        Castro could be the next Roberto Clemente if Cubs would just give him RF and say its his for next 10 years. Hes got a right fielders arm that could eventually compare to RC, sprays ball like RC did, as fast as RC, and can cover as much outfield as RC did. Hendry didnt see this but maybe Theo has already figured this out and is looking for a vet SS to hold spot until one of the kids comes up. If Theo did this, I would think twice before breaking Rules 1 or 2. (for awhile that is)

        • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

          And Clemente would have been more valuable to his team if he had been able to play shortstop.

          His best season was 1967, with a WAR of 8.2. Move those same numbers to shortstop and hold the level of defense constant, and his WAR would have been closer to 10, if not over 10.

          That’s not taking anything away from Clemente, but just because you think Castro can be that good (which is quite the statement in its own right) doesn’t mean the Cubs should move him to right. It is easier to get production out of right field than it is out of shortstop, so the Cubs are far better off keeping Castro at short until it is clear that he just can’t handle it.

          And as we’ve noted before, his defensive troubles at short are due to experience. He progressing at a rate very similar to many infielders who went on claim Gold Gloves. It is far, far too early to give up on Castro at short.

    • Kyle

      As Luke said, the only problem with Castro’s defense is experience. His arm is fine.

      Ramirez is a really, really bad defensive SS too. And he barely outhit Darwin Barney last year. And he’s due a ton of money. Pass.

      • Pakman23

        You’re overlooking the fact the he had been a consistent 5-7 WAR player the last few years. If the Cubs can acquire him, they should. Players in the middle of the field with that kind of impact are rare.

        • Lou

          Yes, but why does he have to be such a prima donna?

  • Matt

    I know we are all excited about the Cubs’ future, but we aren’t going to really be contenders in 2012 — and maybe not even 2013. No need to mortgage the future if we’re not able to really contend immediately.

    So maybe we have to live with Stewart and whatever stop-gaps for this season. It will all depend on what we can get through free agency and what horse trades are out there for Garza, Soto, Soriano, Byrd, Marmol, etc.

    I personally don’t think Pujols, Fielder, Buehrle, Wilson, etc. would help us — we’re NOT almost ready to contend by any stretch of the imagination. Patience.

    • Kyle

      Spending money does not mortgage the future. The Cubs have $30-$40 million just sitting around right now.

      If we were talking about trading prospects for good, older players, that would be mortgaging the future. But these guys cost nothing but money, and the alternative is just sitting on it. The future is the same either way.

      • Lou

        Agreed.

      • MikeL

        Kyle,

        I don’t think that are going to sit on 30-40 million if they don’t sign a big name free agent. That money can go into scouting and player development for next year, and that would be a TON of money allocated to scouting. Then, at the end of next year that 30-40 million will be available for free agents next year. Remember, with the new CBA, Theo said that it seems like it will boil down to who has the best scouting department.

        • Kyle

          With the new CBA rules, I don’t know how you could possibly even think about spending $30 million on scouting and development. That’s an order of magnitude more than a good scouting department should cost.

          You could quintuple the number of scouts you employ, buy them all state-of-the-art equipment, add four developmental coaches to the staff of every minor league team, and you wouldn’t even have dented a couple of million.

          • MikeL

            I see where you are coming from. I think my main point was that 30-40 mill would not get stored away in a locker or vault somewhere, that it would be invested in scouting, or upgrading player facilities, player development, etc.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            There is also a necessarily diminishing return you receive from those additional dollars above and beyond “a super high amount.” It’s not like draft spending.

  • Jim

    Sign Prince to a 3 yr/$100 million

    • MikeL

      He won’t accept that, Jim. I think Brett mentioned that Prince wanted to go somewhere where he is “comfortable”, and that actually bothers me a bit. We have had quite a few players who signed comfortable contracts here recently and look how that turned out. Anyway, if he wants to be comfortable, 3 years won’t get it done. It has to be at least four or five I would think. I think Prince might at least entertain that because he could still get another big payday for another 4 or 5 years from another team after that.

    • Dougy D

      I would definitely be a fan of the Superfriends if the Cubs payed Fielder 33 mil per year.

  • MikeL

    BTW, what in the hell is Pujols waiting for at this point? He isn’t getting a $300 million dollar contract, and if he does, I hope to God it isn’t from our side.

    • Max

      I almost wonder if the Cubs or another team did something to hold him up, like offer 7 years at 28 or 30/year. He’d have less overall money. But, maybe he doesn’t want to play for another 10 years, but instead wants to be known as having the highest annual salary. It’d shock a lot of people, but maybe Theo and Jed know how to get into a player’s psyche. (That’s not to say that his agent would go along with it…)

      • MikeL

        Well, I didn’t understand the tweet….it said that Pujols is negotiating with three teams….or it might’ve said three OTHER teams, plus the Cardinals. With the Marlins out, and the Rangers out of the running for Prince (if they can’t afford Prince, they can’t afford Pujols), then the Cubs have to be involved. The only teams I can think of that would be involved would be the Cardinals, the Cubs, Angels…..and after that, I have no idea. Maybe the Nationals, but I doubt it.

  • hansman1982

    Lozano has contacted the Marlins and told them they are done.  Still negotiating with other teams, though.

    This from @jcrasnick

  • Jim

    Trade brett jackson and garza for Hanley Ramirez and dominguez

    • ferrets_bueller

      ….no. Sorry, but I’d rather have Carlos Zambrano on my roster screwing up my clubhouse than Hanley Ramirez. He’s a lazy, selfish, overrated and declining player who never goes hard. No thanks.

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