With many holes to fill in free agency this winter, the Florida (soon to be Miami) Marlins kicked off free agent season by targeting one position that nobody thinks is in need of an upgrade: shortstop.
The Miami Herald reported Monday that at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, the precise moment when teams were allowed to begin free agent negotiations, the Marlins contacted New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes. According to the Herald, a team of front office higher-ups traveled to New York last week, ostensibly to speak with Reyes' agent.
Even though the team already has shortstop Hanley Ramirez signed long-term, the Marlins are intrigued by adding Reyes to the top of the lineup and moving Ramirez to third base. It would not be the worst move in the world, since Ramirez' defense at short is average on a good day, and mediocre more often than not.
Reyes is a bona fide speedster who could set the table nicely for the Marlins' power hitters. Reyes has hit .292 over his career, all with the Mets, and his defense is a plus - something no one has ever said about Ramirez.
In September, Ramirez told the Herald about playing with Reyes, "It would be nice to play next to him."
Signing Reyes and moving Ramirez to third could also fill a major hole on the team, as the Marlins used five different players at the hot corner in 2011. Prospect Matt Dominguez looked like he would take the third base job back in Spring Training, but proved to be not ready to move up to the big leagues by the time the season started.
The Marlins are also rumored to be interested in Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez, but signing Reyes and moving Hanley to third base would be a more attractive move. Reyes is five years younger than Ramirez, who has seen his offensive production drop off in recent years.
Between the Reyes rumors and reports that the team is angling for Cuban prospect Yoennis Cespedes, it is clear the Marlins are serious about increasing payroll before they open their new stadium in April.
Those intentions don't mean they can win a bidding war for either player, but at least Marlins fans can say their team is actively trying to improve its roster for a change.