The Miami Marlins, long one of the lowest-spending teams in the majors, are breaking into the free-agent market in a big way, making offers to superstar first baseman Albert Pujols, ultra-talented shortstop Jose Reyes and star left-handed pitcher Mark Buehrle within the span of a few days. They met with all three players this week.
Taking a page out of the playbook of the Miami Heat, the Marlins are looking to add major star power and win the winter. There is no indication they are close to a deal with any of the three players, and all three have other suitors, as well.
The Cardinals, who offered Pujols a nine-year deal for about $200 million before the season, have long been viewed as the favorites for Pujols. But Miami could provide a attractive alternative, as Pujols has relatives living in the area. Sources indicate the Marlins are especially interested in Reyes, who is expected to draw interest from the Brewers, perhaps the Tigers and others. The Mets have asked Reyes to come back after he's done some shopping, but sources indicate he hasn't brought anything to them to match at this point.
Buehrle, an extremely consistent pitcher who is 24-6 lifetime in the National League, is viewed by some as more likely to want to return to the White Sox, or barring that, going to his hometown Cardinals or even the Cubs. But his representative has said that he's open to anything. The Yankees, Rangers, Red Sox, Nationals and Royals could all make a play for Buehrle.
The Marlins would talk to holdover star Hanley Ramirez about moving to third if they sign Reyes. Ramirez originally suggested he would welcome a move but his comments recently were as enthusiastic. If they sign Pujols, they'd look to trade Gaby Sanchez.