MLBlog.com’s Matthew Leach is reporting that free agent Albert Pujols will meet with the Marlins within the next few days.
Pujols, 31, is the biggest name free agent on the market this winter, but one of several that Florida (soon to be Miami) is considering. The Marlins move into a new ballpark next season, and their payroll is expected to increase dramatically.
They have already met with Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes, and a Marlins contingent traveled to the Dominican Republic to see Cuban outfielder Yoennis Cespedes this week as well. The Marlins have Gaby Sanchez at first base, but Pujols is the kind of unique talent who could certainly cause a team to rethink what it has in-house.
As Leach notes in his blog, the Cardinals are focused on hiring a manager following the departure of Tony La Russa. This puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to wooing Pujols, although it’s not like the slugger is going to sign with another team before giving the Cardinals a shot to counter. Everything I’ve heard out of St. Louis is that Pujols wants to be a Cardinal – he just doesn’t want to take a hometown discount in the process.
The Marlins seem hell bent on making sure they have a shiny new toy to display when they open up their new stadium next year. It says something about how the Fish view Hanley Ramirez as a centerpiece given that they’re talking to Reyes, who plays the same position as Ramirez (who is coming off a horrendous season due to injuries). If Florida winds up signing Reyes, Ramirez would likely switch to third base, a move he already seems resistant to.