The Miami Marlins' rebranding effort has hit its stride. First the team formally changed its name and unveiled new uniforms at its new stadium, now it is reversing over a decade of spendthrift ways.
Days after reportedly offering a $90 million contract to All-Star Mets SS Jose Reyes, the Fish have made a substantial offer to Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols, considered by many to be the best hitter in the game.
The Miami Herald reported Wednesday night that the Marlins have indeed cast their line in Pujols' direction, but their offer is not the nine-year, $225 million deal that has been floating around the Internet this week.
In fact, the deal, while still covering 9 years, is worth under $200 million, meaning Pujols is unlikely to accept it. He turned down an eight year contract extension likely worth more than $200 million from the Cardinals before the 2011 season. He has been said to be seeking a contract worth more than $25 million per year.
Additionally, the Herald reported that report of a six-year, $90 million deal thrown Reyes' way "is slightly inflated."
Even so, the fact that the Marlins are even in the discussion regarding such marquee free agents as Reyes and Pujols is astonishing. After all, this is a franchise that decided it would rather see Kevin Millar play in Japan than pay him $2 million in 2003.
Marlins president David Samson told the Herald that the Marlins are being treated differently at this year's annual winter meetings. "There aren't poachers after us," he said. "this year, the poachee is becoming the poacher."
Front-office guru Larry Beinfest told the Herald that for the first time, agents are actively seeking out the Marlins, who had formerly been deemed undesirable by the biggest stars on the market.
Regardless, this flurry of buzz and attention will mean nothing if the Fish do not actually sign any of the big names they have been targeting. They won't sell many tickets to the new stadium in Little Havana in 2012 by saying they almost landed Pujols or Reyes.