Reyes thinking long, hard about Marlins
It’s not just that the Miami Marlins want Jose Reyes.
Reyes also wants the Marlins.
One source who has spoken with Reyes says the free-agent shortstop is intrigued not only by playing in Miami but also by playing for manager Ozzie Guillen, a former major league shortstop.
Another advantage for the Marlins is that Reyes, after spending his entire career with the Mets, no longer would play his home games in cold or inclement weather. The warm climate of Miami might help him avoid leg injuries, and the team’s new ballpark will feature a retractable roof.
The Marlins made Reyes an offer last week, major league sources say, and also offered deals to at least three other free agents — first baseman Albert Pujols, left-hander Mark Buehrle and closer Ryan Madson.
Many in the industry are skeptical of the Marlins’ sincerity, believing that the club will make offers that are competitive, but not good enough to accept — and that the players will sign with teams that have better chances to win.
The Marlins’ offer to Reyes was six years, $90 million, according to one source; the team is declining comment. Obviously, the offer was not tempting enough for Reyes to accept immediately. But it was only a first offer.
The Marlins, if they sign Reyes, plan to move shortstop Hanley Ramirez to third base. They have not discussed the possibility of moving Ramirez to center field, still viewing him as an infielder, sources say.
The question is whether Ramirez is even open to moving from shortstop. Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald reported on Twitter late Monday night that Ramirez is “not at all pleased at the prospect of changing positions if the Marlins sign Reyes; the two aren’t the friends that many portray.”
Could the Marlins trade Ramirez?
It would not be easy; Ramirez, 27, is coming off shoulder surgery and the worst season of his career. However, he has three years and $46.5 million remaining on his contract, and a team in need of a shortstop or third baseman likely would consider him an intriguing option.
PUJOLS VS. FIELDER: A MATTER OF AGE
Scott Boras, the agent for Prince Fielder, came right out and played the age card Monday when comparing his client to the other big free-agent first baseman, Albert Pujols.
Fielder, 27, is nearly 4½ years younger than Pujols.
“I don’t think Pujols and Fielder are in any way related,” Boras told reporters at the general managers’ meetings. “I think their markets are separate and distinct.”
When asked whether the two free agents would attract entirely different sets of suitors, Boras backed off slightly, saying, “Sure, there’s crossover. In the game, there are so many teams that need middle-of-the-lineup, franchise players.”
But then Boras continued to make his case.
“I think there are a lot of teams . . . that look long-term with a younger player that may not be in the market for a player that is four or five years older,” Boras said. “My experience in free agency is that Prince is somebody that both a ‘current’ club and ‘future’ club could invest in.”
Boras said the production of the two players over the past five seasons was comparable, but that Fielder did it from ages 23 to 27 while Pujols did it from 27 to 31.
Fielder’s numbers have fluctuated in that span; he had lesser offensive seasons in 2008 and ’10. Pujols has declined offensively in each of the past two seasons.
ROY O: WAITING FOR CLARITY
The possibilities for free-agent right-hander Roy Oswalt hinge on C.J. Wilson and perhaps Mark Buehrle as well.
Once the two lefties sign, Oswalt could become the most attractive starting pitcher available outside of the trade market, particularly if right-hander Yu Darvish stays in Japan.
Darvish more likely than not will be posted by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, but it is not definite that he will play in the majors in 2012. Some teams also might prefer righty Edwin Jackson, 28, to Oswalt, 34.
The Rangers and Angels are among the teams interested in both Wilson and Oswalt; Angels GM Jerry Dipoto and assistant GM Scott Servais met at length Monday night with agent Bob Garber, who represents both pitchers.
Garber also met with the Nationals, whose preference, sources say, is Oswalt.
LABOR DEAL COULD LIBERATE PADRES’ BELL
Padres officials are expressing skepticism that they will retain free-agent closer Heath Bell, and for good reason.
The new collective-bargaining agreement is expected to include a provision that will modify draft-pick compensation for certain Type A free agents. Bell likely will be one of the players who benefits from the change.
The details of the new provision are not yet known, but one scenario is that the Padres still would gain draft picks if they made a qualifying offer to Bell, but that the signing team would not forfeit any of its selections.
Bell, 34, thus would become more attractive as an “unrestricted” free agent — and teams would be more willing to give him attractive multiyear offers knowing that they would be losing only money and not draft picks.
PADRES’ HUDSON, BARTLETT AVAILABLE
Regardless of what happens with Bell, the Padres want to trade either shortstop Jason Bartlett or second baseman Orlando Hudson, major league sources say.
Jed Hoyer, the team’s previous GM, acquired both players last offseason. But now Hoyer is with the Cubs, and the Pads, as always, are budget-minded.
Bartlett, 32, is signed for $5.5 million next season with a $5.5 million option or $1.5 million buyout for 2013.
Hudson, 33, is signed for $5.5 million with an $8 million club option or $2 million buyout for ’13.
If the Padres move Bartlett, they likely will play Everth Cabrera at short. If they move Hudson, their options at second will include Cabrera, Logan Forsythe and Andy Parrino.
NAKAJIMA: ANOTHER SHORTSTOP IN THE MIX
Reyes, Jimmy Rollins and Rafael Furcal are free agents. Barlett is available in trade. And soon a premier Japanese shortstop will be an option for major league clubs.
Hiroyuki Nakajima will be posted by the Seibu Lions and represented in North America by Legacy Sports, sources say.
Nakajima, 29, is a career .302 hitter in Japan who plays both shortstop and second base. One executive views him as far more legitimate than two Japanese middle infielders who flopped in North America, former major leaguer Kaz Matsui and Twins shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
The Giants are one team that could use Nakajima — Brandon Crawford is unproven at short, and Freddy Sanchez is coming off season-ending shoulder surgery at second. The Orioles recently scouted Nakajima as a second-base/utility type, according to the Baltimore Sun.
A number of other teams also could use help at short, including the Mets, Brewers, Pirates and Astros.
Furcal, by the way, has drawn interest at second from the Rockies, Tigers and Blue Jays, but prefers to remain at short, sources say.
AROUND THE HORN
Free-agent DH David Ortiz makes sense for the Rays, but the chances of a deal are slim.
Perhaps the only way the Rays could sign Ortiz would be if he was willing to accept a discounted offer.
Chances are Ortiz will have better options. The Red Sox want him back, and the Blue Jays are another possible suitor.
Don’t rule out the Giants on free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran just yet.
The Giants, who recently acquired outfielder Melky Cabrera from the Royals, want to see how the markets for Beltran and other players develop before deciding how to proceed.
The Angels, who could bid for Pujols and/or Fielder, won’t know more about what to expect from first baseman Kendrys Morales until after Jan. 1.
Morales, who has not played since May 29, 2010, because of a fracture in his lower left leg, is jogging lightly and hitting off a tee.
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has not committed to a second interview for any managerial candidate but Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum.
Sveum’s meeting with Cherington and Red Sox ownership will take place Wednesday.
Workouts reveal only so much, but one scout who recently saw Cuban outfielder Yoennis Cespedes in the Dominican Republic couldn’t help but get excited.
“It was one of the most impressive workouts I’ve ever seen,” the scout said. “He’s built like Bo Jackson. And he didn’t just hit home runs. He hit them out of the stadium.”
Cespedes is expected to be declared a free agent soon.