The unforgettable offseason that will gear up the Marlins for a memorable 2012 season is mere weeks away from kicking off, and the rumors that the team will make a splash signing are nothing new. The Marlins needs lay with filling the void at either third base or center field and acquiring two starting pitchers and a closer.
But in order to satisfy all those needs while making a splash signing, the Marlins seem destined to sign free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes. Look, Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols are the big fish but if you are thinking realistically, both will cost at least $160 million over at least six seasons. Marlins beat writer Joe Frisaro has maintained that the team will make a serious run at Albert Pujols and in turn Prince Fielder, but the thought that those talks will advance is far-fetched considering the other needs the team has to address.
Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel wrote about Ozzie Guillen's conversation with Hanley Ramirez recently and the new manager did not rule out a position change for the Marlins' current shortstop. Earlier this year, Ramirez stated that he'd make the move to third base if the team signed his good friend and fellow Dominican countryman Jose Reyes.
For the Marlins, Reyes is the ideal splash signing because he would not be as costly a signing as Fielder and Pujols, both of which would cost at least $21 million a season. Reyes, on the other hand, might actually not reach that mark until perhaps his third or fourth year on the contract. An ideal Reyes contract might be five years and close to $100 million in value, something the Marlins could do without breaking the bank.
The Marlins could sign Reyes ($14 million in 2012) and still add a pitcher like Mark Buehrle ($12 million in 2012) and a cheap closer option ($4-5 million) like Brad Lidge or Jonathan Broxton for a total of roughly $30 million, which would still keep the Marlins around $10 million short of the century mark (which team president David Samson said he didn't anticipate reaching).
Which big name free agent will the Marlins end up with?
Signing Reyes solves the void at third base because Hanley Ramirez (coming out of shoulder surgery) would move there, Emilio Bonifacio in turn would man center field and the entire lineup would be set with that one signing. The lineup for the Marlins would look something like this:
SS Jose Reyes
CF Emilio Bonifacio
3B Hanley Ramirez
RF Mike Stanton
LF Logan Morrison
1B Gaby Sanchez
C John Buck
2B Omar Infante
The lineup would be the quintessential formula of what the Marlins want, which is akin to the 2003 lineup that was spearheaded by Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo, only this top of the order is much more explosive and powerful.
Reyes has his options. He could head to the Bay Area (and join his friend Carlos Beltran, if the team keeps him), the Nation's Capital (and join a young and growing nucleus) or join the godfather of his own daughter and friend Hanley Ramirez in South Beach and in a new ballpark in a new atmosphere.
For Hanley, he'd have his dugout friend and Reyes would spark up the lineup throughout, from top to bottom. We saw how well the Marlins played when Emilio Bonifacio was hot in July, imagine adding Jose Reyes and having a healthy Hanley Ramirez. The Marlins, especially Jeffrey Loria, would want to make his prized main man happy and this would be the way to do it.