MILWAUKEE -- Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports wrote that the Miami Marlins are believed to have offered Albert Pujols a nine-year deal, perhaps for $225 million. I have a hard time believing that. In fact, I spoke with someone this morning who said that figure is vastly inflated. But, who knows? It's all hush-hush on the subject. The Marlins aren't saying a thing. Either is Pujols' agent.
Here's what we do know: the Cardinals made Pujols a nine-year, $198 million offer BEFORE the start of the 2011 season. He turned it down. Now we're to believe that the Marlins are not only prepared to blow the bank on Pujols, who turns 32 in January, but made that staggering offer on their opening bid to him? The World Series champs are planning to sit down again with Pujols, and I suspect they remain the favorites to ink a deal.
The Marlins are concentrating their efforts on Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, and they are anxious to get one or both of the deals done soon so they start piecing together the rest of the roster puzzle -- or come up with a Plan B -- based on the payroll parameters given to them by owner Jeffrey Loria. Buerhle's agent met with the Marlins on Tuesday here at the GM meetings, but he is also expected to talk with other suitors.
Though I consider Pujols to be a bit of a long shot, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Marlins' payroll for next season eclipse $100 million -- possibly surpassing the payrolls of both the Mets and Dodgers. Only twice -- in 1996 and '97 -- have the Marlins had a higher payroll than the Mets. Since 1997, the Mets have outspent the Marlins threefold.