What’s gotten into the Marlins? First, a new name. Next, a new ballpark and uniforms. Now, the desire to spend money on free-agents. For the first time since their inception, it appears the Marlins are willing to spend money to win. This strategy is a stark departure from their “trade anyone who is due for a raise” approach throughout their history. While that approach has worked out for the Marlins in the past — they did win two World Series — it’s definitely interesting to hear them being linked to every free-agent on the market.
Since the free-agency period began, the Marlins have already met with Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes. Over the past couple days; they’ve been linked to Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Yoenis Cespedes and Carlos Zambrano. The Marlins obviously cannot sign all of those players, but it’s fun to finally see them involved in free-agency. If the Marlins are finally going to open up the checkbook, which free-agents should be the priority?
Since the Marlins have already met with Buehrle and Reyes, they seem like a good place to start. Going after Buehrle makes sense for a couple of reasons. He’s incredibly durable and one of the most reliable starters in baseball. His addition helps shore up a rotation of Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco and a bunch of young guys. Buehrle could also be a great mentor for the young pitchers on the Marlins staff, as he played a major role in John Danks development while in Chicago. The move also reunites Buehrle with Ozzie Guillen, his manager the last eight seasons.
Courting Reyes is slightly more confusing. The Marlins already have a pretty solid shortstop in Hanley Ramirez. While Ramirez is far from a great fielder at the position, the Marlins have given no indication that they will move him any time soon. Unless he or Reyes is willing to move to second base or centerfield, Reyes doesn’t look like a great fit in Miami.
Fielder and Pujols make sense in that they’re the best players on the market and this team is looking to make a splash. The Marlins already have Gaby Sanchez at first — and Logan Morrison is also more than capable of playing there — but neither of those players should pose a threat to Pujols or Fielder. It remains to be seen how serious the Marlins are about going after Pujols or Fielder, but either guy would be a huge signing for this team.
For the first time in their history, the Marlins are being viewed as big spenders during free-agency. Because we have no examples of the Marlins going after big names in the past, it remains to be seen whether players will actually take the Marlins seriously. Based on the Marlins positional needs, signing Buehrle makes sense. Going after Reyes may put fans in the seats, but it’s unclear where he fits in on this team. Pujols or Fielder would satisfy both areas, as they fill the Marlins’ positional needs and would put fans in the seats.
Of course, just because the Marlins are going after these players don’t mean they will actually sign any of them. Still, courting the major free-agents is the first step in convincing both the fans — and the players — that this team is finally going to spend money.
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