keyboard_arrow_uptop

Diamondbacks interested in Yovani Gallardo
The desert was ripe with rumors over the weekend, one that came to fruition and others that might take time to unfold. After exporting Jeremy Hellickson to Philadelphia, the D’backs are said to be in the market for free-agent pitchers, but it’s not yet clear which starters could fit into general manager Dave Stewart’s budget.

Top-tier arms such as Zack Greinke and David Price are certainly out of the question, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick believes that the next level down, featuring Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann, could be too rich for the Snakes’ cold blood, too. That knocks ‘em down to tier three or four, home to the likes of Yovani Gallardo, who Crasnick hears has already caught Stewart’s eye.

Gallardo turned down a $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Rangers to hit the market after more than eight major-league seasons. His free agency was delayed by an extension signed with the Brewers in April 2010, a five-year, $30.1 million deal that carried a club option for 2015. Now 29, Gallardo is running out of time to cash in, so rejecting the qualifying offer was a logical choice.

The question is how severely the draft-pick cost will hamstring Gallardo’s market. No longer a strikeout pitcher, Gallardo has reinvented himself as a groundball arm, and his 4.02 DRA was by no means poor. But the right-hander now rarely dominates and often struggles to work deep into games. He was gone without completing the sixth in 20 of 33 starts last year, which might give pause to GMs who don’t have a deep, strong bullpen already in hand.

Dave Stewart has plenty of live arms setting up closer Brad Ziegler, but the Diamondbacks aren’t exactly the 2014-15 Royals when it comes to shortening games. They also hold the (unprotected) 13th-overall pick in the 2016 draft, a selection that might be tough to cough up for something less than an elite free agent.

Other teams in the top half of the unprotected range might feel the same way, so Gallardo and his agent might face a long, suspenseful winter.

Justin Bour poised to remain Marlins’ primary first baseman
There’s always a bit of hesitation when a 27-year-old breaks out in the majors for the first time, but the Marlins appear inclined to bet on Bour, who slugged 23 homers in 446 plate appearances, en route to a .289 TAv. A left-handed hitter, Bour notched all of his homers in 371 trips against righties. He hit just .221/.293/.279 when facing southpaws, and that’s why Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears that a platoon partner could be incoming.

Besides like-handed hurlers, Bour’s other weak point is defense, evidenced by his -3.8 FRAA at first base. The Marlins will emphasize offseason conditioning to the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder, whose time on the field next year could be tied both to the volume of left-handed pitching the team sees and the progress he makes with the glove.

With that in mind, as the Fish search for a player to share time with Bour, they might place plus defense alongside right-handedness as critical skills on the job description. Right-handed hitting first basemen on the market include Mike Napoli, Steve Pearce, and Mark Reynolds, but virtually all of those available are much more adept with the stick than the leather.

It’s Cardinals or bust for Mark Buehrle
According to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, former Blue Jays lefty Mark Buehrle might not be retiring—but if he’s not, there’s only one team for which he’d lace up his cleats: the Cardinals. Buehrle grew up in St. Charles, Missouri, near St. Louis, and he won’t venture far from his old stomping grounds to pitch in his age-37 season.

The crafty southpaw was a useful innings-chewer for John Gibbons last year, though he fell 1 1/3 short of his 15th straight 200-frame campaign. His 4.68 DRA was nearly a full run worse than his 3.81 ERA, suggesting that Buehrle wasn’t quite as good his topline numbers, but a back-end workhorse might be just what the doctor ordered for the Cards.

St. Louis received shocking news last week that Lance Lynn would require Tommy John surgery, which will almost certainly sideline the right-hander for the entirety of the 2016 season. The Cardinals withstood what was essentially a lost year from Adam Wainwright to make the playoffs in 2015, but Lynn’s ailing elbow is close to the worst pitching news the team could’ve gotten in the early stages of the offseason.

The only consolation is that John Mozeliak & Co. now have the full winter to patch the holes in their starting five. Buehrle falling into their lap would be a fine way to start.