Two bits of news came out recently regarding the Marlins and their ongoing quest to fill one of their positional voids with free agent goodies. One of them is a positive step in the right direction, while the other one may become a potential hindrance for the team's plan.
First, from Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports (H/T MLB Trade Rumors), we get the news of the Marlins' actual offer to free agent shortstop Jose Reyes from last week, according to a source.
The Marlins’ offer to Reyes was six years, $90 million, according to one source; the team is declining comment. Obviously, the offer was not tempting enough for Reyes to accept immediately. But it was only a first offer.
As the article states, clearly the offer was not yet good enough to entice Reyes to sign immediately, contrary to recent unverified Twitter reports. At the same time, it is just an opening salvo, and the Marlins could more than easily bring that value up.
Of course, the Fish could only make the move if Hanley Ramirez is willing to move positions, as mentioned in the linked article.
The Marlins, if they sign Reyes, plan to move shortstop Hanley Ramirez to third base. They have not discussed the possibility of moving Ramirez to center field, still viewing him as an infielder, sources say.
So here we have a conundrum: on the one hand, it seems the Marlins are making a decent first offer to a player they desire, but on the other hand the other player with whom the Marlins need to cooperate may not be so willing to do so. How will this play out?The Reyes Offer
The Marlins offered a six-year contract worth $90 million in total, which would represent the biggest contract the Marlins have ever offered to a player in terms of both total and average annual value. The Marlins do hold some positive cards that can go along with the deal. It would seem as though Reyes could use the warm weather to his advantage in terms of avoiding injury. Reyes would be playing under an interesting manager in Ozzie Guillen -- a manager who very much enjoys an aggressive approach on the bases that would suit Reyes (and wouldn't it be a coup if Guillen's personality and charisma directly led to a Reyes signing).
Reyes would also be earning more than meets the eye because of Florida's tax situation and its lenience regarding the so-called "jock tax." Because the state of Florida does not charge state income tax, salaries earned for games played at home for players of the Marlins and Rays will not be taxed. Eric Seidman of FanGraphs explains.
The Astros have the lowest effective state/city tax rates for 2012, with the Rangers and Mariners close behind. The team playing in a state that does have a personal income tax — with the lowest effective rate — is the Arizona Diamondbacks. Still, there’s a pretty big gap between the Astros, Mariners, Rangers, Marlins, Rays and then the Diamondbacks. Those first five teams range from 2.55% to 2.97%, whereas the Diamondbacks are at 4.54%.
For a guy who might make $15 million or more every season, the difference between a Marlins rate of, for example, 2.97 percent and a rate in another city like the Diamondbacks' 4.54 percent is something like $235,000. That in and of itself would make a difference of almost $1.5 million over six years. The difference between the New York Mets and Marlins is on the scale of $4 million over that same frame.
Ultimately, this is just a first offer, and as was mentioned by Fish Stripes writer Chris Towers in the link FanShot, the Marlins are not currently bidding against anyone. There simply is no reason for the team to bid against itself. If other teams that are interested such as the Milwaukee Brewers and the Mets make their offers, the team can adjust upwards accordingly. Basically, this offer would be a good starting point and a great ending point considering the thought that Reyes would sign for $17 million a season.
The Ramirez Rejection
Of course, a Reyes deal would almost certainly be contingent on Ramirez moving to a new position, which at this point seems likely to be third base. Yesterday, we discussed where Ramirez would best fit and found that the scouting data do not show much difference between third base and center field. Though Kevin Burkhardt of SNY mentioned that the team may move him to center field, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro sided with the Fish Stripes reader base and quickly shot down the idea.
Either way, it seems Ramirez is not that happy about a potential move. This did seem to be the case during the Fish N' Chips charity auction, when Ramirez dodged questions about a position move and maintained that "[he] was the shortstop." However, it also goes against earlier reports that Ramirez was willing to move for Reyes. Perhaps we have never had the right reports to begin with, but there is no doubt that if the Marlins sign Reyes, moving Ramirez off of shortstop to an easier position like third base is imminent.
Fans might be quick to respond to these allegations with the typical "Ramirez is only in it for himself" and "he's not a team player" curses towards the team's current shortstop. However, we have not heard anything official, and as Dan 2.0 originally mentioned, players usually end up moving when the team asks. It does not mean it will not affect him mentally, but it does mean that the Marlins will eventually secure a move if they sign Reyes.
As a fan of the Marlins, I too would like to see Ramirez move to a different position. He will have a better chance at defensive success if he makes the transition to another position after years of mediocre play at shortstop. If he is indeed rallying against the team in making this move, than he is clearly in the wrong with regards to the team and likely with regards to himself; as a third baseman or even a center fielder, a decent defensive Ramirez may still be a valuable player if his bat ultimately bounces back to 2010 levels as expected. His career will not be any more diminished than Alex Rodriguez's career was when he moved, and the team will ultimately benefit. Ramirez should make this move, and I think he ultimately will.