Marlins appear serious about Pujols

BY Ken Rosenthal • November 16, 2011

While many in the industry remain skeptical that the Marlins are sincere in their approach to free agency, the team’s offers evidently were not for show.

The Marlins’ proposal to first baseman Albert Pujols was for nine years at a “substantial” dollar amount, major-league sources said Wednesday.

The exact value of the nine-year guarantee is not known. The Cardinals offered Pujols a nine-year deal last spring in the range of $190 million to $200 million, according to sources.

The Marlins also have offered shortstop Jose Reyes a six-year, $90 million contract and extended offers to left-hander Mark Buehrle and closer Ryan Madson, sources said.

The Marlins’ payroll reportedly will increase to $80 million to $90 million next season in conjunction with the opening of their new ballpark in downtown Miami.

But judging from the team’s offers, the club appears prepared to go substantially higher.

The Marlins indeed want to sign both Reyes and Pujols, and are intent on also improving their pitching, starting and relief.

Reyes and Pujols, meanwhile, view the Marlins as a viable option because of the team’s potential, the vibrancy of Miami and the proximity of the city to their native Dominican Republic.

Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, met with Cardinals GM John Mozeliak on Tuesday night at the general managers’ meetings in Milwaukee.

The Cardinals likely will improve their initial offer to Pujols now that he is a free agent, but ultimately the first baseman might be faced with a choice — accept more from the Marlins or another team or less from the Cardinals.

The Pujols sweepstakes likely will continue for several weeks as teams sort through their options. The Rangers, for example, might grow more interested in both Pujols and Prince Fielder if they lose their top free agent, left-hander C.J. Wilson.



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