Marlins really want Pujols

Albert Pujols celebrates his home run against the Rangers in Arlington, Tex., Oct. 22, 2011. (BRIAN...

Albert Pujols celebrates his home run against the Rangers in Arlington, Tex., Oct. 22, 2011. (BRIAN SNYDER/Reuters)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:44 PM ET

DALLAS - Could Albert Pujols be in the Miami Marlins new yard come opening day?

Well, with a 10-year deal on the table to lure Pujols away from the St. Louis Cardinals, the answer is quite possibly.

To date, the Marlins have landed closer Heath Bell and all-star shortstop Jose Reyes.

“Now, if they sign Pujols too, where does Prince Fielder play?” San Diego Padres manager Buddy Black joked with Tom Verducci on the MLB Network.

Fielder remains a free agent.

St. Louis offered Pujols a nine-year contract averaging $22 million per year while Ryan Howard earns $25 million a season for the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Cards will likely bump their offer.

HOT ONE

You hear some strange things walking around the lobbies here.

Whether it’s the 110th winter meetings at the Hilton Anatole or any other year.

One making the rounds Tuesday had the Blue Jays moving shortstop Yunel Escobar to the Cincinnati Reds for second baseman Brandon Phillips and then the Jays would promote shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, whose glove is ready, but his bat needs time to develop.

Phillips, 30, hit .300 with 18 homers and 82 RBIs last year while Escobar hit .290 with 11 homers and 48 RBIs.

Zack Cozart, 26, who has played 11 games in the majors, is currently the Reds’ shortstop.

Second baseman Kelly Johnson has to decide by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday whether to accept arbitration.

THE NEW KID’S REVIEW

Manager John Farrell on newly acquired closer Sergio Santos?

“We were able to get a guy that as Alex (GM Anthopoulos) said, potentially for the next six years, he’s a Blue Jay, someone with strikeout ability for late in the game,” said Farrell. “We gave up a good pitcher, a guy that we believed in, even though he was at double-A. We gave up a very good pitcher to get a quality closer.

“It’s remarkable when you think about a position player making that quick of a transition and to have a dominating, power arm with a well above average slider.”

What hole in the bullpen would the manager like his GM to solve next?

“Probably two other guys that have strike-out rates over 13, as well,” said Farrell jokingly.

AND HE’S ONLY 21!

That’s what they used to say and write about Wayne Gretzky (on up to about age 29).

Brett Lawrie, 21, was ranked the 10th best player 25-and-under by ESPN’s Keith Law.

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton, 24, was rated the No. 1 player by Law.

The rest of the top five were Pittsburgh Pirates centre fielder Andrew McCutchen, 25, Florida Marlins right fielder Mike Stanton, 22, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, 24 and Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, 23.

Wrote Law: “Lawrie had a big off-season before 2011, changing organizations and agents ... concerns about his coachability disappeared. He showed he can murder a fastball, added value on the bases (a plus runner despite his muscular build), and played a surprisingly strong third. He’s going to see more off-speed stuff in 2012 and will have to improve his recognition of and/or ability to hit those pitches. The ceiling keeps going up and a peak with a .400 OBP, 30-plus homers, and 20-plus steals is within reach, with above-average or better defence at third.”

Colby Rasmus, 23, was the only other Jays player in the top 50, ranked No. 43.

“He’s dropped some weight,” said Farrell who has talked to Lawire. “He is fully committed to his off-season workout program. He has yet to start his throwing program.”

WHO’S IN LEFT?

The Jays had a pair of candidates in Travis Snider and Eric Thames.

“We’ve notified them (they’ll compete for the job),” said Farrell. “Alex has been very public about that. We feel like we’ve got two young left-handed hitters that have every ability to be regular players. Eric has a natural confidence at the plate. He worked his tail off during the year to become better defensively, and you know what, he did a very good job for his first year.

“Travis has more polish as a defender, as a base runner. He came up and swung the bat very well, and yet to maintain that performance is the biggest thing, to let that ability and that talent play out.”


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