DALLAS -- Even as the Marlins formally introduced Jose Reyes at a midday press conference here Wednesday, Albert Pujols shadowed them like an unrealized fantasy.
Owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson would only talk about Reyes, much as the other day they would only talk about new closer Heath Bell when Reyes' deal had not yet become official.
Difference is, there is no agreement with Pujols yet. And there are growing indications that there might not be.
"We're working on some things," was the only thing Loria would say. "Stay tuned."
As the day got longer Wednesday, the lobby buzz at the Hilton Anatole here grew louder that Pujols is moving closer to returning to the Cardinals. Basically, the thinking goes, the Marlins' best chance was with a quick strike, which they executed Tuesday. The Cardinals increased their offer to 10 years and $220 million, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the same day.
Samson said that the Marlins' plan "always was a three-part move", and two of those part now are in house with Reyes and Bell. The third part, clearly, is Pujols. And if he passes, left-handed pitcher Mark Buehrle.
If Pujols would decide to come to Miami, the Marlins' plan actually would extend out into at least four parts, because they would trade incumbent first baseman Gaby Sanchez for a starting pitcher.
Whatever happens, the Marlins would like to add starting pitching depth to go with Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad.