The Marlins and Mark Buehrle have agreed to a four-year deal worth $58 million, as per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and confirmed by Jim Bowden of ESPN. Buehrle adds the lefty that the Marlins wanted, but he does so at a hefty price.
As we mentioned earlier as part of the Fish Stripes Plan for Offseason Success, Buehrle was second among the pitchers involved this offseason, firmly behind C.J. Wilson. However, the Marlins had interest in both, apparently offering Wilson a six-year deal and Buehrle a four-year pact and seeing who would sign first. Buehrle bit, and as a result the Marlins will be purchasing his age-33 to 36 seasons.How will that fare? I'll have more on that tomorrow (test time, so not enough time tonight), but it is important to point out that the Marlins are asking Buehrle to average something around 11 to 12 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) over the next four years, or about three WAR per season. Right now, Buehrle is around a three- to 3.5-WAR player, so the Marlins are banking on one of the most fascinating phenomenon of the past ten years: the remarkable consistency of Buehrle.
If he can average around three wins per season over the next four years, the Marlins will have received their share, but to do so, he needs to project well next year and decline at perhaps a lesser rate than we usually assume in these contracts initially. I cannot be certain, because I have not run the numbers yet, but this deal is right on the fringes of appropriate, with perhaps the fourth year pushing it into murky, if not strictly overpay, territory. As mentioned, more on this tomorrow, stay tuned.