The Orioles are in search of another starting pitcher. One free agent possibility seems to have taken himself out of contention.
Mark Buehrle, the venerable left-hander, who fell just short of 200 innings this year after 14 straight seasons of 200 or more, says he’s contemplating retirement.
The only way Buehrle says he’ll postpone retirement is if he plays for the St. Louis Cardinals. Buehrle lives in the St. Louis area, and he seems a lot more amenable to extending his career by playing for his hometown team than A.J. Burnett.
Burnett, who lives in Monkton, Md., has seemingly forever been linked with the Orioles, except he never seems to reciprocate their interest.
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Buehrle just concluded his third season with Toronto. After a long and successful career with the Chicago White Sox, which included a World Series championship in 2005, Buehrle signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Miami Marlins, who dealt him to the Blue Jays after a year.
His deal was one of the better investments made with a veteran pitcher. Buehrle was 33 when the deal began, and was 53-41 with an ERA below four runs per game.
The Cardinals now have an apparent opening because Lance Lynn will miss next season due to Tommy John surgery, and it’s a natural fit.
While the Orioles will look for younger pitchers, Buehrle is certainly accomplished. While he’ll turn 37 next March, he’s in great shape and won 15 games—his most since 2008—last season.
Buehrle doesn’t project as one of the top free agent pitchers, but if the Orioles aren’t able to sign a solid lefty such as J.A. Happ, Scott Kazmir or Jordan Zimmermann, he’d fit their profile.
He’s pitched decently, but not spectacularly well in Baltimore. In 13 appearances, he’s 5-5 with a 4.04 ERA, a bit above his career average.
If the Cardinals don’t sign him, and the Orioles don’t sign someone else, perhaps later in the winter, Buehrle may reconsider. He’d be a nice piece to have.
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