All it took was a stadium built mostly at taxpayers' expense, a quick name change and new uniforms to get the Miami Marlins to open up the pocketbook for some elite free agents.
Reports have surfaced that the Marlins have made contract offers to three free agents: 1B Albert Pujols, SS Jose Reyes, and P Mark Buehrle. All three visited Miami last week and toured the new stadium and got the hard sell from owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson, among others.
Fox Sports reported Friday that the Marlins have made "substantial" offers to Reyes and Pujols. Reyes visited Miami on Wednesday, eating lunch with Loria at Joe's Stone Crab and touring the stadium. Pujols did the same on Friday.
Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweeted later Friday that the Marlins put in a bid on Buehrle as well, but that none of the three deals were at all close to happening. Buehrle, too, had a tour of the stadium.
Just because the Marlins made offers does not mean any of the three will sign, but unless the team made egregiously low-ball offers, it would not be surprising if one of the three (probably not Pujols, though) does actually sign with Miami.
Team Loria is feeling deep-pocketed with the new stadium set to open in April. He wants to maintain that reality by fielding a competitive team, and now he has the resources to do so.
Marlins fans could end up feeling like they live in a bizarro world next season (those uniforms won't help alleviate that feeling), but they may not mind it if the team wins games.