St. Louis Cardinals Hot Stove: The bargain basement of free agents

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Oct 4, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Mark Buehrle (56) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Buehrle

In a lot of ways, a starting pitcher will be the most challenging thing to find. In order to stay starters, they have to be good pitchers, and if they’re good pitchers, they tend to get paid like good pitchers. Mark Buehrle may be an exception. To begin with, we aren’t sure that he is a good pitcher at this point. Beyond that, he has apparently stated that he’ll either retire or pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals. If he wants to pitch for St. Louis, that’s not a great position to start negotiating from (“If you don’t give me $10 million, I might retire!”), so maybe he’ll be interested in coming aboard for less than he might otherwise get for the opportunity to go out wearing the birds on the bat.

As for why we’d want him, the answer is pretty simple: 200 innings. Since first becoming a full time starter in 2001, Mark Buehrle has thrown at least 200 innings in every season except 2015. He fell 1.1 innings from his fifteenth straight season at that mark. He’s also been worth an average of about 3.4 fWAR per season. Given that we’re relying on full, healthy seasons from Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Carlos Martinez, and Michael Wacha, doesn’t 200 innings of league average sound like a nice little bit of stability? Yeah, I think so too.

Projected Cost: $2M-$5M/1 year + incentives to $10M

Next: Cliff Lee