Over the past two weeks, the Miami Marlins have been taking their fans on an unanticipated roller coaster ride. They opened up the free agency period by being exceptionally aggressive in pursuing top free agents like Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and Albert Pujols, and they hit the high point of the ride last Friday with the unveiling of their new name, logo, and uniforms.
Since that point, though, stories about the Marlins have taken on a shade of skepticism. The Marlins' offers to Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols turned out to be lower than originally reported, and they have bordered on the edge of credibility. What exactly are the Marlins after here? Are they actually serious about pursuing these free agents? Or is this media storm just one giant publicity stunt?
While it's difficult to say from the outside looking in, things aren't looking good for the Marlins. Jon Heyman from Sports Illustrated reported last night that the Marlins are "not serious players" for Albert Pujols, and that Pujols' agent has restarted discussions with the St. Louis Cardinals.
This news shouldn't come as a huge surprise, as Pujols was never a perfect fit for the Marlins' roster and they have stated that their priority this offseason is pitching. However, it just keeps the questions swirling, and it doesn't do anything to dispel the idea that the Marlins aren't serious about actually signing a big name free agent. Anyone can talk the talk, but when push comes to shove, are you willing to make that large of an investment?
To the Marlins' credit, inking Pujols to a nine-year, $200+ million contract isn't the best business decision for a team that isn't ready to pass the $100 million payroll plateau. They have to be careful with their assets, and signing Pujols would put all their eggs in one basket. Baseball doesn't share many similarities with the stock market, but one thing is the same between the two: it's best to diversify.
Also, it's entirely possible this is merely one stage of the negotiations and the Marlins will come on hard once the Cardinals have laid their offer on the table. It's still early in the offseason, after all. Let's hold off on our judgement about the new and improved Miami Marlins for a little bit longer.