The Miami Marlins have come out guns blazing this offseason and while they have not made any ballpark tours this past week (General Manager Meetings), you can bet that they will continue to make headlines in the coming days and weeks.
Thus far, the Marlins have entertained free agents Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and Albert Pujols on their visits to Miami and have offered each a “preliminary” contract offer. The Marlins have also offered a contract offer but not entertained closer Ryan Madson, formerly of the rival Phillies.
Albert Pujols is a stable lock to return to St. Louis after reports surfaced that the Marlins “initial offer” was way lower than the $225 million reported and was actually slightly below the $200 million mark. An offer that would only make sense if Pujols genuinely wanted to leave St. Louis for a change.
The market for Jose Reyes is very thin at the moment with only the New York Mets and Miami Marlins in on his services. The Brewers, Giants, and Tigers have bowed out and are looking to fill the voids in other ways. Jon Heyman tweeted that the Marlins initial offer of six years and $90 million was “lighter” than reported, perhaps $10-$20 million less.
In either case, Reyes or Pujols, these signing aren’t expected to take place for another two weeks, around the Winter Meetings in early December.
Starting Pitching and Closers
Mark Buehrle is getting loads of attention from the pitching hungry teams across the league. Buehrle has been seemingly be linked to both Chicago teams, Washington, St. Louis, New York (Yankees), Boston, and of course the Marlins.
The Marlins would love to have Buehrle who would reunite with Ozzie Guillen, now manager of the Miami Marlins. Buehrle gives them the durable innings eater in a rotation that sometimes found itself always relying on the bullpen last season. Buehrle would occupy the top half of the rotation because there is no way the Marlins invest big dollars to a guy to be their bottom feeder.
The Marlins also met with Bob Garber, the agent for CJ Wilson and Roy Oswalt during the GM Meetings this past week in Milwaukee. Reports are surfacing that Wilson wants a contract in similar value of Cliff Lee’s $120 million contract but with a sixth year.
In other rumors, Joe Frisaro, the Marlins beat writer for MLB.com now says that the Marlins will be willingly to move top prospects for areas of need at the big league level. This includes southpaw Chad James, outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, and third baseman Matt Dominguez.
The Marlins know the free agent market for starters is a thin one and have made it known that they will make a trade of some sort for an established starting pitcher. We heard that the Marlins would love to have James Shields of the Rays but Tampa Bay is leaning toward keeping him. However, the team remains interested in Gio Gonzalez of the Athletics.
To land Gonzalez, it would take a package of about 3-4 young players which means wave goodbye to Matt Dominguez, Chad James, and Marcell Ozuna. I believe a package of that nature will get the deal done, maybe you put Chris Coghlan or Kyle Jensen in there to sweeten it.
Notice I left Gaby Sanchez out, the Marlins will do their best in keeping him but even if they don’t land Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols, Logan Morrison figures to be the one naturally replacing him at first base with Emilio Bonifacio becoming the leading candidate to be the left fielder. The Marlins could make a second trade if they lose out on Buehrle with names such as John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Francisco Liriano, and Wandy Rodriguez being available.
If they manage to acquire a pair of established starters, the Marlins might be better positioned to deal Ricky Nolasco and his $20.5 million ($9 million in 2012) to allow for some salary relief. One deal that makes sense is trading Ricky Nolasco for the Rockies Huston Street.
Colorado gets a starting pitcher it covets and Marlins get themselves a closer. Street is owed $7.5 million in 2012 and has a mutual option for 2013 at $9 million.
I know Street’s numbers on the surface may be unflattering but a deeper look reveals a change of scenery is what he really needs. Street had 5.59 ERA (32 games) at home in 2011 versus a 2.15 ERA (30 games) away from Coors Field.
According to Joe Frisaro, the Marlins are not only targeting Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes but also a fellow Cuban defector in Jorge Soler.
Soler profiles as a future slugger with 40 home run potential and a talent of which is a few years away from the big leagues as is he only 19 years old.
Soler could be viewed as a fallback plan if the team fails to land Cespedes. Soler would replenish the farm system in the wake of possible trades expected this offseason.
On Cespedes, Frisaro states from a source that the 26 year old could be seeking more than double Aroldis Chapman’s salary ($30.25 million) over eight years.
Currently, the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, and Marlins are high on the highly touted outfielder. The AL East powers view him as a corner outfield in their current alignment while the Cubs and Marlins have openings in centerfield for him.
No matter, money will be deciding factor in landing Cespedes who many view as a 30-30 guy when he plays in MLB. It could be another month before Cespedes can sign with a team as he has yet to become a free agent.
But its no secret that the Marlins, who now play in Little Havana (more specifically) would love to have a cornerstone guy such as Soler or Cespedes to draw in fans wanting to see their native guy play.