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21 posts from November 2011

November 15, 2011

Report: Marlins' offer to Reyes is $90 million for six years

   MILWAUKEE -- Greetings from the ornate lobby of the historic (and supposedly haunted) Pfister Hotel, site of the G.M. meetings, where the Marlins are being represented by Larry Beinfest and Mike Hill. It was at these same meetings a year ago that the Marlins dealt Dan Uggla to the Braves for Omar Infante and Mike Dunn.

    The news of the morning is brought to you by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports, who is reporting that the Marins offered Jose Reyes a six-year deal for $90 million. That definitely fits within the competitive range for the free agent shortstop and, as a first offer, it's a strong indication the Marlins are serious. Now they'll wait to see what other offers Reyes receives before making their next move.

     Rosenthal also reported that, in addition to Reyes, Albert Pujols and Mark Buehrle, the Marilns also made an offer to reliever Ryan Madson -- no surprise given the clear absence of a closer. Agent Scott Boras was reportedly asking the Phillies for four years, $44 million to retain Madson. But the Phils balked and instead signed Jonathan Papelbon. Can't see the Marlins paying that kind of money for Madson, either.

      DATE CHANGE FOR MARLINS' ROAD OPENER -- The Marlins will play their first road game of the 2012 season in Cincinnati one day after their April 4 season opener at home against the Cardinals. The Marlins were originally scheduled to have a day off on April 5 before facing the Reds at Great American Ballpark on April 6. But the Reds petitioned to have the date changed because they didn't want their opener to fall on Good Friday.

November 11, 2011

Marlins make offers to Pujols, Reyes and Buehrle

     Never mind trying to sign one big-name free agent. The Marlins are going for the trifecta.

     Sources are confirming earlier reports by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman that the Marlins have extended contract offers to three of the biggest names on the free agent market: first baseman Albert Pujols, shortstop Jose Reyes and starting pitcher Mark Buehrle.

      Details of the offers are unknown, but signing all three could conceivably add $60 million in annual payroll and push the total figure well over the $120 million mark. The Marlins already have commitments to six players for $50 million next season and have five arbitration-eligible players that could add antoher $13 million to the total.

       Pujols met Friday in South Florida with owner Jeffrey Loria and received what Rosenthal reported to be a "substantial" offer. Reyes visited Wednesday while Buehrle met Tuesday. The Marlins also went to the Dominican Republic on Thursday to look at Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who is expected to become a free agent within weeks.

       If the Marlins managed to sign Reyes and Pujols, they would arguably feature one of the most formidable lineups in the majors, one that would also include Hanley Ramirez, MIke Stanton and Logan Morrison, as well as Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck.

Source: Marlins plan to make serious offer for Pujols

     The Marlins aren't playing games with Albert Pujols. According to a Major League source, the Marlins are serious about signing the free agent first baseman and intend to make a competitive offer.

     Pujols was in South Florida on Friday, lunching with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and other front office executives, who have spent the past week wooing other high-profile free agents, including Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle. The Marlins also planned on giving Pujols a tour of their new ballpark, where later tonight the team will unveil its new logo and uniforms.

     Pujols is the big prize in this year's free agent class and has reportedly received a nine-year, $200 million offer from the Cardinals to remain in St. Louis. Sources say that Loria, in particular, covets Pujols and envisions him at first base when the Marlins open their new stadium on April 4 -- against the World Series champion Cardinals, no less.

     If the Marlins were somehow able to snag Pujols, it would seem inconceivable that they'd also land Reyes or Buehrle without increasing payroll to well over $100 million. But Loria is calling most of the shots now and is intent on creating a splash, both on the field and cosmetically, as the Marlins prepare to move into their new ballpark.

    In addition to a lucrative contract offer, the Marlins will certainly use location in trying to reel in Pujols, a native of the Dominican Republic. When speaking about the Marlins' interest in Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes,  Marlins president David Samson said: "We think we're a great fit because we're Miami and we are a natural destination for any Cuban player, any Latin American player. We are the gateway to the Americas."

    You can be sure Pujols heard those same words.

Albert Pujols to meet with Marlins

      Jose Reyes I can visualize. Albert Pujols I cannot. But the MLB.com report that the Marlins will entertain the biggest ticket on the free agent market is true. Pujols will pay a visit to the Marlins -- the Miami Marlins as of 9 p.m. tonight -- just as Reyes and Mark Buehrle have done already.

       Pujols has previously received a reported offer from the Cardinals for $200 million over nine years. If the Marlins were to pig out on Pujols, they would have to increase payroll well beyond the $80- to $85 milion estimate that has been widely projected. They would also be hard-pressed, at that point, to address pitching, which is their primary need.

       The Marlins can dream big. They can dream all they want. But the fact remains that, even with the pending increase in payroll, they're not in the sort of financial realm to pay big stars mega-salaries, no matter how creative they get with the numbers or how much they sell Pujols on the idea of living in balmy South Florida, chowing on stone crabs instead of toasted ravioli.

        I don't see Pujols happening.


November 10, 2011

Hanley: "I'm the shortstop right now"


            Hanley Ramirez says he would welcome having Jose Reyes as a teammate.

            But Ramirez wouldn’t say whether he’d welcome a position switch to third base if the Marlins signed the free agent shortstop.

            “I’m the shortstop right now and I consider myself a shortstop,” Ramirez said at a fundraiser on Thursday outside the team’s new ballpark.

            The Marlins met with Reyes in New York last week and again on Wednesday, but have not yet spoken to Ramirez about possibly moving to third if they end up signing Reyes.

            “I think he’s a really good player,” Ramirez said of Reyes, whom he also considers a friend. “Everybody knows that. This organization needs him. It’s good when you see the front office put the best team they can on the field.”

            But, despite being asked repeatedly about his thoughts on moving to third, Ramirez stuck to his position that, as of now, he considers himself to be the team’s shortstop.

            “My whole life I’ve been a shortstop,” he said. “I’m a shortstop.”

            Marlins president David Samson said “we’ll jump off that bridge when we get to it” when asked if Ramirez would move to third if Reyes is signed.

            “Hanley is the face of our franchise,” Samson said. “He is our superstar. I’d leave it at that. No matter who we sign, Hanley is always the person for me who is the most important person on our team.”

            Ramirez said he is ahead of schedule in his recovery from September surgery on his left shoulder and expects to be ready for spring training.

            Reyes isn’t the only player the Marlins are courting. They had free agent pitcher Mark Buerhle in for a visit on Tuesday and were in the Dominican Republic on Thursday to look at Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

            “A lot of us took a long look at Mr. Cespedes,” Samson said of the 26-year-old outfielder. “We were with him for quite a few hours. We had our top scouts there. We had our top baseball people there. They were certainly impressed with his ability.”

            Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was also on the scouting trip.

            The Marlins are among many teams interested in Cespedes, who is expected to receive free agent status soon. But Samson said he think the Marlins offer advantages to Cespedes other teams can’t match.

“We think we’re a great fit because we’re Miami and we are a natural destination for any Cuban player, any Latin American player,” Samson said. “We are the gateway to the Americas. We are the Miami Marlins, and I think that he agrees. But we have to see if we can make a deal that makes sense for both parties."

"Miami Marlins" garb goes on sale Saturday

       The Florida Marlins are down to their final day before morphing into the Miami Marlins (save the tears), and with that comes the announcement that T-shirts, caps and such will go on sale on Saturday at select outlets in South Florida. The team is unveiling its logo and unis Friday in a ceremony at the new ballpark, so you'll have time to decide whether or not you like the brand-new look.

        Here's where to find the new apparel come Saturday:

        1) Dolphin Mall (11401 NW 12th St.) at Entry 5, near the Marshalls and Burlington Coat Factory. Omar Infante, Gaby Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez will be on hand from 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.

        2) Aventura Mall (19501 Biscayne Boulevard) on the Lower Level near JC Penny.

        3) Sawgrass Mills Mall (12801 West Sunrise Boulevard) at Mall Entry 3 near FYE. Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco will be on hand from noon to 1 p.m.

        4) Marlins en Miami Store (3701 SW 8th. St.). John Buck and Anibal Sanchez are expected to be present from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

        Also, starting Friday at 11 p.m. and continuing through the weekend, new Marlins merchandise can be bought at the new ballpark.


        "Marlins Insider," hosted by Marlins radio broadcaster Glenn Geffner, returns Saturday on 790-The Ticket with a special three-hour broadcast from the new ballpark. Guests scheduled to join Geffner from noon to 3 p.m. include Ozzie Guillen, John Buck and Anibal Sanchez.

       The show will also be streamed live online at Marlins.com.

November 09, 2011

Samson: Crowds to exceed 30,000 per game in new ballpark

   During what was a mostly unrevealing interview on SiriusXM's baseball channel this morning, Marlins president David Samson provided a figure range on what he expected attendance to look like in the new ballpark.

    "We're going to be drawing, I'd say, 30,000 to 35,000 every single game," Samson said.

    Based on that estimate, the Marlins should draw anywhere from 2.4 million to 2.8 million over the course of an 81-game season. If so, that would translate to the second-highest home attendance figure in franchise history, eclipsed only by the 3 million that turned out during the inaugural season in 1993.

     The club has yet to release season-ticket sales figures.


      Jose Reyes is supposedly in South Florida today, receiving the grand tour of the ballpark as the Marlins continue to woo the free agent shortstop. New York Daily News columnist John Harper wrote today that he had heard the Marlins might offer Reyes a three-year deal with a high annual salary in excess of $20 million per season. While that's entirely possible, I don't see the Marlins winning out on Reyes if they were to remain firm on those numbers. Most reports project him getting a five- or six-year deal at $15 million to $19 per season. Keep in mind, too, that any offer the Marlins make to Reyes probably won't be their final one. One side note about the Harper column: the Marlins did not -- as one Mets official privately joked to him -- have a one-minute phone conversation with Reyes at 12:01 a.m. last Thursday. They had a sit-down, face-to-face meeting with him in New York at that early morning hour, an indication the Marlins are serious.

November 08, 2011

Report: Marlins meeting today with Mark Buehrle

     The Marlins are moving so quickly on the free agent front that it almost makes you wonder if they'll have one ready to unveil at Friday's big uniform and logo shindig at the new ballpark. The newest name to surface: free agent pitcher Mark Buehrle.

      According to Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports, the Marlins are planning to meet with the veteran left-hander sometime today, followed by a meeting with shortstop Jose Reyes on Wednesday and another with outfielder Yoenis Cespedes on Thursday.

      The Marlins traveled to New York last week to make a pitch to Reyes' agent the moment the free agent signing period began, an indication he is high on their priority list. But pitching is a priority, as well, and the organization has targeted the 32-year-old Buehrle as the arm to get in that arena.

      The durable southpaw has logged at least 30 starts and double-digit wins over each of the past 11 seasons, all with the Chicago White Sox, where he pitched for manager Ozzie Guillen. He would provide the Marlins with a reliable lefty in the rotation and a veteran presence in the clubhouse, a No. 2 starter to follow Josh Johnson in the grand order of things.

       Buehrle said in September that he is intrigued by the idea of changing leagues and moving to the NL. "It's one of those things where it would be kind of an interesting challenge to switch leagues and see how the National League is," he said.

       Among available free agent pitchers, the Marlins are much higher on Buehrle than they are on C.J. Wilson.

        It's important to keep in mind that the Marlins face keen competition for all of these players, but the fact they're making such a strong push so early in the process is an indication they're in it to win it.       

November 07, 2011

Marlins Talking to Jose Reyes

      The Marlins are so enamored with All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes that they were in contact with the player at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, the moment the free agent signing period could begin. A contingent of high-ranking front office executives for the Marlins were spotted at Miami International Airport on Wednesday headed for New York, where Reyes' agent, Peter Greenberg, keeps his offices.

       If the Marlins were able to sign the Mets shortstop, it would necessitate a position change for Hanley Ramirez, something he said in September that he would welcome and accept. "It would be nice to play next to him," Ramirez said at the time. "He's an energy guy."

       Reyes is considered one of this year's "Big Three" position-player free agents, along with Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. He has battled a myriad of leg injuries the past three seasons that have cut into his playing time. He made two trips to the disabled list this past season with hamstring issues, but still managed to play in 126 games and qualify for the league batting crown with a .337 average.

       Reyes, 28, isn't the only marquee name the Marlins are targeting. They will be sending a contingent of 13 people -- including Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria -- to the Dominican Republic on Thursday to take a look at five-tool center fielder Yoenis Cespedes, a 26-year-old Cuban defector. Cespedes is expected to receive clearance to begin talking with major league teams later this month and could command a $30 million figure to sign, according to reports.

        "The Marlins love him," according to one source with knowledge of the team's interest.

        Some believe Cespedes is major league ready. If so, and the Marlins were able to sign both he and Reyes, it would likely put Ramirez at third base. Ramirez is recovering from September surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, but the Marlins believe he'll be ready for April 4 when they open their new ballpark against the World Series champion Cardinals.

        The interest in Reyes and Cespedes would seem to indicate the Marlins are prepared to increase payroll well above the $80 to $90 million figure some have projected. Reyes is expected to receive a 5- or 6-year deal, and the Marlins have said that they intend to upgrade the rotation with one or two more quality arms.

         This much is certain: as the Marlins prepare to move into their new digs, they're going all-out to jazz up the roster. Marlins president David Samson, president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and general manager Mike Hill flew from Miami to New York last Wednesday to begin discussions with Reyes at the first possible moment.

          They'll head to the Dominican on Thursday to evaluate Cespedes in a private workout. On Friday, when they officially become the Miami Marlins, they'll unveil their new logo and uniforms in a three-hour ceremony at the new ballpark. 

November 02, 2011

Marlins Bigwigs Head to NY on Eve of Free Agent Signing Period

      Sitting inside Terminal D at MIA, having lunch and waiting for my flight to Boston this afternoon, and who should I see walk past -- briefcases in hand -- but Marlins president David Samson, president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and general manager Mike Hill.

      Me (with eyebrows raised): 'Where you guys going?"

      Samson: "Business."

      Me: "Where specifically?"

      No response. The three smiled and walked past quickly, not in a chatty mood.

      Turns out they were headed to New York, where they'll meet with owner Jeffrey Loria and, in all likelihood, begin discussions with the free agents they've targeted. Teams were allowed to begin talking to free agent players starting at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

       I'm getting negative vibes, in terms of the Marlins' interest, on Jose Reyes, C.J. Wilson and Grady Sizemore, though I wouldn't rule any of them out until all is settled. Pitching will be the primary focus, but the Marlins could address that need through trading, as the free agent market for quality arms isn't all that deep. Contrary to one or two reports out there, the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano remains a trade possibility.