With the Winter Meetings less than a week away, let's take a look this week on the blog at some of the potential free agents that might make sense for Texas.
Today's free agent: LHP Mark Buehrle
Buehlre, 32, is one of the top starters on the market. The question is what he'll command once offers start flying and whether the Rangers are willing to commit those kinds of dollars (some speculation has him as possibly a guy that gets at least four years and around $50 million). But the club is always looking to get better and Buehrle would give them someone that can eat innings, induce ground balls and help front the rotation.
Buehrle has compiled a 5-2 record and a 3.86 ERA in 51 1/3 innings in eight games (seven starts) in his career at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. That includes a complete game. He threw a no-hitter against the Rangers in Chicago on April 18, 2007.
Buehrle was 13-9 with a 3.59 ERA in 2011, pitching 205 1/3 innings in 31 starts. It was his third consecutive season with 13 wins and he's had at least that many in nine of his 11 full seasons. What's perhaps most impressive about Buehrle is his durability. He has thrown at least 201 innings and made at least 30 starts in all 11 of his full seasons (all with the White Sox). He threw a career-high 245 1/3 innings in 2004, winning 16 games. He's won at least 15 games five times.
Buehrle is a ground ball pitcher that fields his position well, as evidenced by three Gold Gloves. He has a strong understanding of the batters in the American League and isn't intimidated by anything. He has induced 274 double plays and 230 quality starts since 2001, the most of any pitcher in the league in that span. He also leads the league in starts and innings pitched since 2001.
Interestingly, he was involved in one of the more strange stories at the ballpark in recent years. In August 2005, Buehrle accused the Rangers of cheating by using a light system in center field to let batters know what pitches were coming. The Rangers laughed it off and Buehrle didn't really talk about it after that. (It came after he allowed seven runs (four earned) on nine hits.)
Lights aside, Buehrle would certainly strengthen the Rangers' rotation and give them a proven innings eater, a guy with no injury history and another veteran in a young starting rotation. He is a team player and a leader. The question will be his price.