Active Marlins land Buehrle
For the second time in three days, the Miami Marlins walked up to the winter meetings podium in Dallas to introduce a high-priced free agent while working doggedly behind the scenes to bring more sparkling stars to baseball’s newest ballpark.
The Marlins, dominating the market under art dealer-owner Jeffrey Loria, increased their spending spree to $191 million in less than a week, agreeing yesterday to a $58 million, four-year contract with lefthander Mark Buehrle just hours after finalizing a deal with All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes.
Marlins president David Samson said that the team had withdrawn its $200-million-plus offer to Albert Pujols, leaving St. Louis as the prime candidate to sign him.
It has never been clear that Pujols, the three-time NL MVP coming off his second World Series title in six seasons, would be willing to leave the Cardinals. St. Louis said it submitted a new offer Tuesday. The Cubs have expressed interest, and some agents said they had heard the Angels were bidding.
“I’m hoping they keep the other animal in St. Louis,’’ said ex-Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, now skipper of the NL East rival Braves.
Thus the Marlins turned their attention to pitching in an effort to get off to a quick start in April at their $515 million, retractable-roof stadium.
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen and Buehrle were together on the White Sox last season, when the 32-year-old pitcher went 13-9 with a 3.59 ERA and won his third straight Gold Glove.
“This kid is special,’’ Guillen said. “He pitched in the big scenarios, big moments, very tough city to pitch. When people love you in Chicago that means something.’’
Reyes, a four-time All-Star, finalized a $106 million, six-year contract, two days after closer Heath Bell completed a $27 million, three-year deal with the Marlins. “They showed me a lot of love,’’ Reyes said.
Reyes’s arrival means All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez will have to move to third base.
Trying to shoot down speculation that he’s unhappy with the position switch, Ramirez yesterday tweeted, “Crazy stuff going around. Im just relaxing with my family and getting mentally and physically strong and ready for next season.’’
Street to Padres
After Bell left them, the Padres quickly got a new closer by acquiring Huston Street from the NL West rival Rockies for a player to be named and cash.
The 28-year-old Street had 29 saves in 33 chances for Colorado in 2011. He was 1-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 62 games.
The righthander has 178 saves in seven seasons with Colorado and the Athletics.
“He’s a very proven closer. He’s done it in this division, he’s had three good years in Colorado, which is a very hard place to pitch,’’ new Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said.
Astros name GM
The Astros hired Jeff Luhnow as their GM, hoping he can help rebuild a team that finished with the worst record in the major leagues. The 45-year-old Luhnow had been a vice president with the Cardinals since 2003, overseeing the team’s drafts for several years . . . Veteran outfielder Nate McLouth agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Pirates, returning to the team he spent his most productive seasons with from 2005-09 before being traded to the Braves. The Pirates also acquired infielder Yamaico Navarro from the Royals for two minor leaguers. . . Francisco Rodriguez accepted the Brewers’ offer of salary arbitration, a move that could lead the team to trade the reliever to a team seeking a closer . . . The Yankees won negotiating rights to shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima of the Seibu Lions in Japan’s Pacific League. New York has 30 days to reach an agreement with Nakajima and will pay the posting fee for the 29-year-old (about $2 million) only if an agreement is reached. Nakajima hit .297 with 16 homers and 100 RBIs this season for the Lions . . . Fox announcer Tim McCarver won the Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence.