Report: Marlins meet with SS Reyes

BY foxsports • November 9, 2011

Jose Reyes toured the Florida Marlins' new ballpark as a potential pillar for the franchise.

The Marlins courted the All-Star shortstop Wednesday, a person familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team hasn't publicly commented on free-agent negotiations.

The Marlins are also pursuing left-hander Mark Buehrle, who took the ballpark tour Tuesday, the person said. In addition, owner Jeffrey Loria and a contingent of team officials plan to visit the Dominican Republic on Thursday to watch a private workout by highly regarded Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

With the new stadium scheduled to open in April, the perennially thrifty Marlins are expected to increase their payroll from $57 million this year to about $80 million in 2012, which will allow them to be active in the free-agent market.

Along with the ballpark, new manager Ozzie Guillen might make the Marlins a more attractive option for free agents. Buehrle pitched for Guillen the past eight seasons with the Chicago White Sox.

Buehrle and Reyes are two of the top free agents available, and competition for them is expected to be stiff. Buehrle went 13-9 with a 3.59 ERA in 2011, his 11th consecutive season with at least 10 victories and 30 starts.

Marlins officials first met with Reyes in New York last Thursday, shortly after the free-agent signing period began. Reyes won the NL batting title this year with a .337 average and led the majors with 16 triples despite two stints on the disabled list.

Reyes has spent his entire nine-year major-league career with the New York Mets. If he joined the Marlins, they would likely move 2009 batting champion Hanley Ramirez to third base.

Cespedes played for Cuba in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and is projected to be ready for the majors. He's expected to receive a multiyear contract worth more than $25 million.

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