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Marlins offer Yoenis Cespedes less than $40 million

Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that the Marlins’ offer to free agent Yoenis Cespedes was worth less than $40 million.

From Rotoworld.com:

A source told Eric Reynoso of Cafe Fuerte on Saturday that the Marlins made an offer this week of “around $40 million.” And now we can guess that it was probably in the 30s. Cespedes returned to the Dominican Republic on Thursday night after meeting only with the Fish. The Cubs, White Sox, Orioles and Tigers are thought to be interested in the 26-year-old Cuban outfielder as well.

At this point it doesn’t appear as though Cespedes has meetings scheduled with any other teams. But that may not be a big deal seeing as how he can’t officially sign a contract until the Office of Foreign Assets Control unlocks him. Who knows how long this process will be dragged out for but the Marlins remain the clear favorites.

That said, the club to keep an eye on is the Tigers. Their desire to acquire an outfielder is well known and just because they gave Prince Fielder a mega-contract that they won’t be willing or able to sign Cespedes. Detroit is hot after a World Series title after losing to the Cardinals in the 2006 Fall Classic and to the Rangers in last season’s ALCS.

Then again, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that “there was a lot of talk late in the week” about the Orioles being a “sleeper team.” So who knows at this point?

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St. Louis Cardinals sign Carlos Beltran to a two-year deal

New York Mets batter Carlos Beltran (R) is congratulated by teammate Jason Bay (44) after Beltran scored his second home run of the day, a two-run homer, against the Colorado Rockies in the seventh inning of their MLB National League baseball game in Denver May 12, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

The St. Louis Cardinals knew they weren’t going to be able to replace the most productive player in franchise history in one fell swoop. But netting Carlos Beltran at least somewhat softens the blow of losing Albert Pujols this winter.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals have reached a two-year, $26 million contract with Beltran. The free agent outfielder batted .300 with a .910 OPS and 22 home runs in 142 games this past season for the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants. He was traded to San Francisco at the deadline for top pitching prospect Zach Wheeler, but he suffered a wrist injury that kept him out a few weeks and the Giants stunk down the stretch. (On a related note, it’s perplexing why the Giants didn’t even attempt to re-sign Beltran when they foolishly gave up their best minor league pitching prospect for what turned out to be a three-month rental.)

Beltran is expected to start in right field but he could move to center once Allen Craig recovers from offseason knee surgery. Craig told reporters earlier this week that he expects to be back by opening day, but the Cardinals will just have to wait and see how his recovery goes. The club also has John Jay, who will start in center when Beltran is playing right and will provide depth once Craig returns.

Considering Beltran was also fielding offers from the Indians and Blue Jays, this is a nice short-term risk for a St. Louis team that badly needed a bat with the departure of Pujols. Again, Beltran isn’t going to make anyone forget about the former St. Louis superstar, but at least he fills a void in the middle of the lineup. The biggest concern is whether or not he, Matt Holiday, and Lance Berkman can stay healthy. If they can – and if Adam Wainwright can recover from Tommy John surgery – then there’s no reason to think the Cardinals won’t make another run at the postseason this year.

Losing Pujols dramatically alters the club’s lineup, but give general manager John Mozeliak credit for landing one of the top names on the free agent market this winter.

Marlins sign Jose Reyes – let the winter meetings begin

New York Mets Jose Reyes reacts in the dug out in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field in New York City on July 16, 2011. UPI/John Angelillo

It appears as though both Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez will have new homes next season.

Pending a physical, the Reyes and the Miami Marlins have agreed to a six-year, $106 million deal. The 28-year-old shortstop hit .337 last season for the Mets and with Miami trying to draw good attendance for its new stadium, the Marlins put on a full-court press in attempts to sign Reyes over the past few weeks.

Reyes, who gives the Marlins an upgrade at shortstop defensively, will essentially force Ramirez to move to third base. When previously asked if he would be willing to change positions following reports that the Marlins were interested in Reyes, Ramirez said that, “I’m a shortstop.” But apparently he has agreed to play third now that Reyes is heading to Miami.

With the winter meetings starting up this week, more big signings could be on their way. Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Carlos Beltran and C.J. Wilson are some of the biggest names that could be heading to different cities next season. There was a report last week that the Cubs were interested in signing Pujols, although that may just be a ploy in order to drive up the price for the Cardinals, who are Chicago’s most bitter rival. It’s assumed that Pujols wants to stay in St. Louis, but only if the price is right. His last contract was rather owner-friendly and he has already said that he isn’t willing to give a hometown discount to the Cardinals, although that could change.

While Fielder’s next destination is largely unknown, it appears as though it won’t be Milwaukee, where the first baseman has spent his entire career to this point. There has been at least one report, however, that said Fielder has narrowed his choices of where he wants to sign to the Blue Jays, Rangers and Brewers, with Toronto thought to be the favorite.

Now that Reyes is off the market, Jimmy Rollins should become the most sought after shortstop. There is speculation that the Brewers and Cardinals are the Phillies’ primary competition when it comes to signing Rollins, who batted .268 with 16 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 142 games this past season for Philadelphia. Rollins just turned 33 on November 27.

Fredi Gonzalez a candidate to replace Piniella as Cubs’ next manager

CHICAGO - JANUARY 01:  Former Chicago Cubs second baseman and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg waves to the fans during pregame festivities prior to the Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings during the NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on January 1, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

According to ESPN Chicago, former Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez will be one of the candidates interviewed by the Cubs to replace Lou Piniella at the end of the season. Piniella announced his retirement yesterday, which will be effective immediately following the season.

Gonzalez, who was fired by the Marlins on June 24, has a long personal and professional relationship with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry stemming from the time they worked together with the Marlins.

Gonzalez, who has interviewed with the Cubs in the past, is the consensus top choice to replace Bobby Cox as manager of the Atlanta Braves, according to multiple baseball sources.

If I were to put on my prediction hat (which is essentially the sleeve off one of my old T-shirts that I fashioned into a hat), I’d say that Gonzalez winds up in Atlanta and Ryne Sandberg (photo) replaces Piniella in Chicago. Sandberg has been craving the Cubs’ job for a couple of years now. He wants it. He needs it. He wants to make sweet, sweet managerial love to it.

Of course, hiring Sandberg (who was a mega fan favorite in Chicago, which is about 10 notches above just a regular fan favorite in case you were wondering) makes too much sense. And nothing Cubs’ management does every makes sense.

Is Ozzie Gullen the Marlins’ top choice?

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen comes out of the dugout to argue a call against the Chicago Cubs during the second inning at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago on June 27, 2010.  UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

According to the Chicago Tribune, White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen is the Marlins’ top choice to replace Fredi Gonzalez as manager if he were to become available after the season.

The Marlins’ decision to keep Edwin Rodriguez as manager through the end of the year came about because ownership wants to see which managers are available after the season. Ozzie Guillen would be at the top of the Marlins’ list if he were available. …

It’s a little odd that the Tribune would have that sort of information hidden in an article and not provide more details as to why the Marlins want Ozzie. But maybe they don’t have any more information outside of that.

Guillen was a coach with the Marlins in 2003 when they won the World Series, so he has ties to Florida. There’s no doubt he could provide a spark for the Marlins young roster and he’s already proved that he can win. It wouldn’t be a bad fit.

One thing’s for sure, I would want front row seats to the first Ozzie-Hanley argument if Guillen does wind up in South Florida. What a fireworks display that would be.

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