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The GM meetings start today

Which means the offseason is officially underway.  The big rumor concerning the Marlins, is not a surprise.

As the general managers' meetings begin in Orlando, the Marlins are telling teams that Cabrera, 24, their four-time All-Star, is on the market and could be traded by December.

Why would the Marlins, with the worst attendance in the game and desperately trying to land a stadium deal, unload their best player and one of the top hitters in baseball?

For one, Cabrera - who made $7.4 million last season - stands to make at least $10 million in arbitration this winter, a challenging price tag for a low-revenue team. Also, despite averaging 31 homers, 116 RBI and a .327 batting average the past three seasons, he has had several troublesome episodes.

He has been benched a couple of times for arriving late for games, his weight is a concern and sources say the Marlins are frustrated with his overall attitude and approach.

Larry Beinfest, Florida's baseball operations president, has declined to discuss possible personnel moves. But he suggested changes are on the way, citing the team's need to improve its starting pitching and defense.

"Sitting on the sidelines and hoping you're going to get better, I'm not sure that's really a good way to go at it,'' Beinfest said last week when asked if big changes were in store for the Marlins' roster this winter.

"There are some things we'd like to improve on ... that may constitute some change on this roster in order to achieve those goals.''

Just to continue on the theme, here is what the New York Post has to say.

If the Marlins do decide to deal Cabrera, outside executives suspect they will follow a path similar to when they traded Josh Beckett to Boston after the 2005 season.

"They [Marlin officials] know what they want and they don't make many mistakes in evaluation," an NL executive said. "I suspect, like with Beckett, they will target a few teams they know have what they want. They are not going to open this up to 29 teams. This will not be an auction. They will ask a big price, and if anyone says yes, they will do it."

But they weren't the only ones out of NY to offer an opinion.

The last wrinkle in the third baseman class comes from Florida's Miguel Cabrera, who's eligible for arbitration and due for a boatload of money. Given the number of teams looking for bats and the Marlins' limited budget, it's very likely Cabrera will be traded.

There are two problems with Cabrera are his poor defensive skills and his bulging waste line. Whichever team trades for him will get a third baseman for 2008--but a glorified DH in the Cecil Fielder mold down the road.

The only question: Is Cabrera worth it?

The Marlins are going to ask for a fortune in prospects, and the fact that they don't HAVE to trade Cabrera means they might get it.

Welcome to the offseason!  

We are going to hear speculation about what the Marlins may or may not do all offseason long.  Is it possible the Marlins will trade Cabrera rather than paying the amount of money he will undoubtedly receive in arbitration?  Sure, it could happen and I wouldn't be shocked if it did. Especially since, given the team's financial and stadium situation, all big money earners are a question mark as to their return to the team, as they will be for years to come until something changes.

But at this point, it is all guess work.  As the offseason progresses and as real information comes in, not just this guessing game, we should be able to better predict the future.