November 11, 2011
Talk about a Miami Makeover. Not only are they about to become the Miami Marlins with a new stadium, new manager in Ozzie Guillen and new uniforms, but South Florida's Major League Baseball team might be getting a bunch of new players to fill all of that out.
Not all of these dominoes have to fall for the Florida Marlins to win in 2012, or to become, heaven forbid, a "Dream Team" like the Miami Heat with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (pictured). But even a couple of the right free agents would make them contenders in the NL East.
[ Related: Ultimate MLB free-agent tracker ]
St. Louis Cardinals beat reporter Matthew Leach of MLB.com writes that Albert Pujols(notes) will meet with Marlins officials in Miami, possibly by this weekend, according to an industry source. Well, that's new — and a big domino.
What was previously known: that New York Mets free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes(notes) has visited the Marlins, and toured the nearly completed ballpark. Further, reporter Jorge Sedano of 790-AM The Ticket says a source tells him that Reyes and Marlins are "almost a done deal." (And if Reyes goes to the Marlins, does Hanley Ramirez(notes) move to third base? He'll cross that bridge, or burn it, when he gets to it.)
Mark Buehrle(notes), a left-hander with the Chicago White Sox since 2000, also has visited the Marlins. And members of the front office have been in the Dominican Republic checking out Internet sensation Yoenis Cespedes. Busy little beavers, those fish.
Pujols, 31, is the biggest name free agent on the market this winter, but one of several that Florida (soon to be Miami) is considering. The Marlins move into a new ballpark next season, and their payroll is expected to increase dramatically.
It's not known whether Pujols and the Cardinals have had any substantive conversations since the World Series ended.
(The answer is probably not yet, given that the Cardinals have known for a while that Pujols would file for free agency, and they still have a manager to hire.)
But let's take a hypothetical look at the Fish, who had a payroll of about $57 million in 2011 and won 72 games:
Not a bad-looking bunch, especially by adding the guys in italics. The Marlins had a messed up 2011 — from the front office to injuries on down — but even without adding free-agent stars, they've got more talent than 72 wins. A Reyes here, a slugger there, a pitcher over there, a healthy Josh Johnson, and the Marlins become a player for the playoffs.
It's not just a dream, if the Marlins will it to happen.
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