Marlins Albert Pujols offer shows new financial muscle in Miami at winter meetings


St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols hits a two-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the seventh inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Eric Gay/AP)
December 7, 2011

The Miami Marlins are not stopping at Jose Reyes, the former Met they signed as a free agent, in their offseason spending spree. The latest big name on their target list, Albert Pujols. As Matt Brooks reported:

The Miami Marlins have already accomplished a lot this offseason. They have a new name and logo, a sparkling new stadium, a charismatic new manager, a reliable new closer and a speedy new shortstop.

But the team is not done making moves just yet. Now they’re trying to lure the best first baseman in the game to South Beach, too.

Multiple media outlets reported Tuesday that the Marlins have offered Albert Pujols a 10-year contract. The money involved in the offer has not been disclosed.

The offer trumps the nine-year, $195 million contract the St. Louis Cardinals offered their star slugger before the season.

Miami has already dished out $133 million in free agency — former Mets shortstop Jose Reyes signed for six years and $106 million and former Padres closer Heath Bell cashed in for $27 million over three years.

From the sounds of it, the Marlins are trying to wrap up the signing as quickly as possible, but a key point in the deal could be Pujols’ reported interest in a no-trade clause — a perk the ballclub did not offer Reyes.

In addition to the Cardinals, Miami will also face competition from Chicago and others. Cubs new general manager Theo Epstein confirmed that the team had spoken to agent Dan Lozano, who represents the nine-time All-Star and others.

Not to be outdone, the St. Louis Cardinals countered the Marlins offer with one of their own to the All-Star slugger. As Matt Brooks explained:

The St. Louis Cardinals were not going to sit idly by and watch the suddenly-high-rolling Miami Marlins snatch up one of the best players in franchise history.

Not just over one month after winning after winning their 11th World Series title, with nine-time All-Star Albert Pujols playing a critical role.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the Red Birds’ offer could reach $220 million over 10 seasons — one-upping Miami’s offer of over $200 million for the same timespan.

Both teams are said to be pressuring Pujols and agent Dan Lozano to agree to terms as soon as possible, but the magnitude of the decision has the 31-year-old first baseman considering his options.

With the Marlins pushing the pace of the negotiations, the Cardinals appear to be playing catch-up.

“In this situation we’re participants,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. “We’re not dictating anything.”

And as you might expect, the Cardinals and Marlins are not the only teams in on the Pujols contract talks.

New Cubs general manager Theo Epstein confirmed reports that the team has spoken to Lozano, and now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have emerged as a darkhorse in the Pujols sweepstakes.

Miami’s big spending has made it the team to watch at the MLB winter meetings according to some analysts. As AP reported:

No more little low-budget Marlins. Miami’s team hopes to become baseball’s Big Fish.

“I want our team to be important,” owner Jeffrey Loria said Monday as the winter meetings opened. “It’s an energy city, and I think that’s one of the things that brings the players there. They see the energy.”

Making the first big splashes, the Marlins completed a $27 million, three-year contract with Heath Bell a day after reaching a preliminary agreement on a $106 million, six-year deal with Jose Reyes. Who will be the next big name migrating to South Florida: Albert Pujols? C.J. Wilson? Mark Buehrle?

Pujols, who already has toured the new ballpark, would join Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison in the batting order — if the three-time NL MVP is willing to leave the St. Louis Cardinals, the only major league team he’s played for.

“One big hitter?” Loria said out loud, his 2003 World Series ring flashing from his hand. “Well, I don’t know about that, but there’s a possibility of another player or two we’re looking at.”

Morrison, among others, was wondering.

“Just out of surgery. Everything went well,” he wrote on Twitter after a minor knee operation, adding: “Have we signed Pujols yet??”

On the mound, Wilson or Buehrle could be added to a rotation that includes Josh Johnson (if healthy), Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad. While the Marlins are being aggressive, traditional big spenders such as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are moving cautiously, both with free agents and in the trade market.

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