Marlins Sign LHP Buehrle to 4-Year Deal

Chicago lefty lands $58 million contract from Miami

By David Hill
|  Wednesday, Dec 7, 2011  |  Updated 5:29 PM EDT
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The Miami Marlins are not done dealing, but instead of a first baseman, they added a starting pitcher on Wednesday. A day after the team was this close to signing Albert Pujols, the Fish have reportedly signed former White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle to a 4-year deal worth $58 million.

The Marlins have got themselves a workhorse to help anchor their rotation. Buehrle has started at least 30 games and thrown 200 innings in each of the past 11 seasons. He has a career record of 161-119 with a 3.83 ERA.

Buehrle is not the kind of pitcher who can be the ace of the staff, but since the Marlins already have Josh Johnson in that role, all he needs to do replicate his past performance.

Buehrle's deal effectively ends Miami's pursuit of Pujols. ESPN.com reported Wednesday that if either Buehrle or C.J. Wilson, also a Marlins free agent target, signs with the team, they will stop lobbying for a deal with Pujols, ostensibly because they would no longer be able to afford the $20+ million per year Pujols wants.

The signing of Buehrle probably also ends the team's pursuit of C.J. Wilson, but could precipitate a full-court press for Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder, thought to be the Marlins' second choice after Pujols.

The Marlins' pitching staff was among the team's biggest disappointments in 2011. With Johnson injured much of the year, only Anibal Sanchez put up anything close to resembling respectable numbers.

Buehrle will likely improve the Marlins' pitching staff, but the wisdom of giving a 4-year deal to a 31-year-old pitcher may come into question should he falter in 2012. However, he does have the advantage of moving from the American League to the National League. Without having to face opposing designated hitters anymore, Buehrle's numbers could get a boost.

The Marlins might not be done making deals at MLB's winter meetings just yet, though. By the time the new-look Fish take the field at their new stadium in April, they could be unrecognizable compared to 2011's team, even when factoring out the team's new uniforms.

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