Mark Buehrle Not Retired Yet, Will Consider Pitching In 2016

Veteran left-handed pitcher Mark Buehrle was reportedly set to hang up the spikes after 2015, but he is not committing to retirement just yet, as he tells Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago.

Buehrle, 36, enjoyed another characteristically productive season for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015, going 15-8 with a 3.81 ERA in 32 starts. However, his streak of 14 consecutive seasons with at least 200 innings was snapped as he finished the regular season with 198-and-two-thirds innings. If he had recorded that missing inning and one-third, it would have put him in elite company.

Trying to help Buehrle in his quest for history, the Blue Jays sent him out the pitch on the final day of the season in an attempt to record two innings of work. Unfortunately, Buehrle did not make it out of the first inning, only lasting two-thirds of an inning and giving up eight unearned runs as Toronto’s defense let him down.

Many believed that would be the last image of Buehrle on a Major League mound. With the Blue Jays currently in the playoffs, Buehrle was not a part of the ALDS roster and will not be on the ALCS roster, either. But he is not ruling out a return in 2016.

As Buehrle told Padilla, he will listen to offers this offseason and potentially return for at least one more season. However, Buehrle told Padilla, “He will listen to offers but has no plans to sign a minor-league deal with an invite to big-league camp.” That means any team who had designs on trying to lure Buehrle to their team as a veteran on a buy-low option can now look elsewhere.

Aside from the 14 consecutive seasons of 200 innings, Buehrle has been a reliable workhorse for a variety of reasons. Since his first full season in 2001, Buehrle has not recorded fewer than 30 starts and 10 wins in a season. Also, the former 38th-round pick has only posted one season with a losing record in his career (12-13 in 2006).

During his 16-year career, Buehrle’s most successful run was during his 12-year tenure with the Chicago White Sox. After starting as a reliever in 2000, Buehrle went on to make four All-Star teams, win three Gold Gloves, and lead the White Sox to a World Series championship in 2005.

Buehrle’s greatest personal milestones in Chicago were his no-hitter against the Texas Rangers in 2007 and a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009.

With that perfect game, the 18th in Major League history at that point, Buehrle became the sixth pitcher in history to have thrown both a no-hitter and a perfect game, joining Cy Young, Addie Joss, Jim Bunning, Sandy Koufax and Randy Johnson. Roy Halladay would go on to join the group by throwing a no-hitter and perfect game in 2010.

After the 2011 season, Buehrle signed a four-year, $58 million contract with the revamped Miami Marlins, via MLB.com. In addition to Buehrle, the Marlins had signed fellow free agents Jose Reyes and Heath Bell, looking to establish themselves as a powerhouse in the NL East. While Buehrle enjoyed another solid season in 2012 (13-13, 3.74 ERA), the Marlins endured another disappointing year and failed to make the playoffs. Thus, after just one season, the Marlins held a fire sale and traded all of their big contracts; Buehrle’s included.

The Blue Jays and Marlins agreed on a blockbuster 12-player trade that sent Buehrle, Reyes, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck to Toronto in exchange for Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino, Jake Marisnick, Jeff Mathis, and Anthony DeSclafani, via MLB Trade Rumors.

In three years north of the border, Buehrle has continued to show the grit and guile that made him one of baseball’s highly regarded competitors. In addition being a part of the Blue Jays’ first playoff appearance since 1993, Buehrle enjoyed some personal success in 2015, recording his 200th career victory.

Whether or not 2015 does end up as Buehrle’s last season, the lefty is looking to stay true to himself and not attract a ton of attention when he does officially retire. Just like he has for his entire career.

“I snuck into this league, and I’m going to sneak out.”

[Image by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images]