Reports: Albert Pujols to visit Marlins
Pujols and his representatives are meeting with the Marlins in Miami on Friday, The Associated Press reported, a day after MLB.com reported Pujols' visit with Florida would come as early as Saturday.
Pujols has been in the Dominican Republic this week doing work on behalf of his foundation, a source told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
Pujols, 31, is one of the biggest names on the free-agent market. With the new stadium scheduled to open in April, the perennially thrifty Marlins are expected to increase their payroll from $57 million this year to about $80 million in 2012, which will allow them to be active in free agency.
Pitcher Mark Buehrle and shortstop Jose Reyes already have talked to the Marlins. In addition, owner Jeffrey Loria and a contingent of team officials had planned to visit the Dominican Republic on Thursday to watch a private workout by highly regarded Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Along with the ballpark, new manager Ozzie Guillen might make the Marlins -- who officially will be renamed the Miami Marlins Friday -- a more attractive option for free agents.
Pujols is a free agent for the first time after spending his first 11 major league seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. Pujols and the Cardinals didn't discuss a contract extension during the season, which ended with a World Series title, but he hasn't ruled out remaining in St. Louis.
"We're just going to see where God takes us," Pujols said last week.
The Cardinals exercised a $16 million option on Pujols' contract after last season. The slugger rejected a multiyear extension that included a small percentage of the franchise during the winter, and cut off negotiations on the first day of spring training.
Pujols' numbers in nearly every major offensive category are on a three-year decline, but he remains among the game's elite players. He hit 37 home runs this year, running the 30-homer streak to 11 years, and batted .299 with 99 RBIs. He led the Cardinals' improbable late-season surge and became only the third player to hit three home runs in a World Series game.
When the Marlins open their new ballpark in April, the first game will be against the Cardinals.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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