Marlins signing Reyes shouldn’t affect Phillies in 2012

Posted by Kevin Durso


Jose Reyes signed a 6-year, $108 million contract with the Miami Marlins. The Marlins are now targeting other top free agents, Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. 

The Miami Marlins made the first splash at the Winter Meetings with the signing of shortstop Jose Reyes. The longtime Met is staying in the NL East, but taking his talents to South Beach, to borrow a line from another Miami All-Star.

The Marlins have already landed closer Heath Bell. They've already got a talented young team, especially in the outfield, with Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez leading the charge of young stars. And, perhaps the strongest reason for the last place finish in 2011, they will have Josh Johnson back for a full season.

Now, they may be setting their sites on two more All-Star players. Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson have been linked to the Marlins lately, and the Marlins do have an offer out to Pujols.

Bell said at his introduction yesterday that he thinks the Marlins could contend with anyone in the division, most notably the defending five-time champion Phillies. Certainly anything is possible, and with the Marlins making significant upgrades, they won't be cellar dwellers in 2012. But are they good enough to win the division?

The Marlins are not a serious threat to the Phillies…yet. With Reyes, it is similar to Jayson Werth, who left the Phillies for the Nationals in 2011. Werth had a sub-par season in 2011, for one, but he proved an age-old adage: one player doesn't win championships, teams do.

Even if Werth improves in 2012, the Nationals aren't as much of a threat even as the Marlins, as Washington hasn't established improvements to their roster yet. Meanwhile, the Marlins are certainly going to be a better team, and the team that was so hot in April and May, then fell apart, will finish higher in the standings in 2012 than the Nationals.

But if nothing else happens for the Marlins this offseason, they don't challenge the Phillies and Braves for the crown. Sign a player like Albert Pujols, the prize of the free agent market this season, and they instantly become a threat.

Pujols is that type of player, that can instantly elevate a team into playoff contention. But he wouldn't be acting alone in this case. He's partnered with an All-Star closer and a shortstop coming off a batting title win. Consider it Miami's new Big Three, should Pujols agree to the massive contract offer awaiting him from the Marlins. The Phillies have mainly stayed right where they were last year, as have the Braves. The Marlins have improved, but so far, are probably no more than a third-place team. The Nationals and Mets are still in the lower echelon of National League teams.

Even if the Marlins don't sign Pujols, they will still become a threat to the Phillies sooner than you think. Since their origin in 1994, the Marlins have made the Postseason twice. Both times they went on to win the World Series. Even as lucky as that seems, figure this. Baseball's new CBA benefits teams like the Marlins, who, after the 2012 season, have a greater chance of making the Postseason. A third-place finish could still get you into the Postseason, and maybe that's what the Marlins are looking for. Granted, in that case, the Postseason expansion benefits the Phillies and Braves as well, who can still make the Postseason even in years of decline by posting a strong enough record.

The Marlins won't win a World Series again anytime soon without getting a little lucky again, so the Phillies 2012 dreams aren't in threat by the new residents of Miami. But with the right players, and a little bit of time, they will be a strong contender for years to come.