High-profile names on Marlins wish list

Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes headline the list of potential free agent position players expected to hit the market after the World Series.

Already, all three have been mentioned as possible targets of the Marlins. In terms of making inquiries, that may end up being the case.

One of the more realistic big names that clearly is on the Marlins’ radar is Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs’ 33-year-old third baseman.

Internally, the Marlins already view Ramirez as a possible fit for a lineup looking to mix in an established veteran to a youthful squad that includes Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez and Mike Stanton.

Ramirez is in the final season of a five-year, $75 million contract, which includes a club option of $16 million in 2012. Now, if the Cubs choose to exercise the ’12 option, Ramirez is free to void it and become a free agent.

Ramirez would bring an established defensive presence and a right-handed power bat.

The club could see an infield of Aramis Ramirez at third, Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, Omar Infante at second and Sanchez at first.

While top prospect Matt Dominguez, 22, is getting some big league seasoning now, the addition of an established middle of the lineup hitter like Aramis Ramirez would give the rookie more time to develop.

After a disappointing 2011, the Marlins are expected to be highly active in the offseason, addressing everything from their manager, coaching staff, Minor League operations and big league roster.

In 2012, the franchise will unveil a new beginning, in their new, retractable-roof ballpark.

With new revenue streams, payroll is expected to jump substantially — from $58 million to around $80 million.

For the first time in more than a decade, big name free agents will be sought.

The team will look for a power bat like Aramis Ramirez, but the larger focus will be on starting pitching. Specifically, left-handed starters. Already, C.J. Wilson is being talked about.

The Marlins, according to sources, clearly will explore signing Wilson. As they will Aramis Ramirez.

But the Rangers’ lefty isn’t the only pitcher the club will look at. They basically will check out the possibility of signing all available starting pitchers. As hard as it is for Florida fans to imagine, the possibility does exist that the team will make a pitch for the prize pitcher who could be out there, CC Sabathia, who could decide to opt out of his current contract.

As intriguing as it would be for the Marlins to get into, say, the Pujols sweepstakes, chances are they’d look at Aramis Ramirez and C.J. Wilson instead.

As disappointing as 2011 has been for the Marlins, the organization already is internally looking at what could be in ’12. The new stadium has created new optimism to lure in established stars.

Joe Frisaro

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