The Nationals have zeroed in on free agent Mark Buehrle and are visiting with the left-hander today at his home in St. Louis. A source confirmed to the Washington Times the Washington Post report that the meeting was happening and a group led by Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was sitting down with Buehrle and his agent, Jeff Berry.
The Nationals have been clear about what they’re looking for in a starting pitcher and Buehrle appears to fit the bill precisely. Rizzo said earlier this month, after the Nationals locked up right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year deal, that they were not necessarily still in the hunt for a front-line starter.
They have two of those, really, in Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. What they were looking for was “a good leader type of guy that throws a lot of innings that has shown he can win in the big leagues — and really can lead our staff just not by having the best stuff on the staff but by showing how to be a professional and how to be a winner and how to pitch 200 innings in a season many, many times.”
Buehrle is the definition of a horse, having started an average of 33 games in his 11 full seasons in the major leagues and has never once started fewer than 30 in a season. He also averages 223 innings per season — never throwing fewer than 200. Along the way he’s also won a World Series, pitched a no-hitter and a perfect game.
The Nationals are not alone in their pursuit of him, however. No fewer than 10 other teams have already expressed interest in Buehrle and he’s already been to Miami to meet with the Marlins. The Cubs, Twins, Rangers, Yankees, Royals, Red Sox Diamondbacks, Blue Jays and Angels also reportedly are interested in the left-hander.
Washington is also interested in Roy Oswalt and top free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson, who are both represented by Bob Garber, but it appears Buehrle is atop their list and Oswalt would be next if they can’t lock up the lefty. Wilson is attractive to them as well but his years and dollar demands may price the Nationals out of the bidding as they’ve already got strong young, controllable pitching that’s expected to be in the fold for years to come.