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12/09/08 12:42 PM EST

Marlins ponder pursuing Pudge

Team officials mixed on whether to go after veteran catcher

LAS VEGAS -- Pursue Pudge or not? It's a question the Marlins are wrestling with.

Catcher Ivan Rodriguez is an intriguing free-agent alternative if Florida is looking for a veteran to challenge incumbent John Baker for the starting backstop position.

According to several sources, the Marlins are mixed on what to do. As of now, Rodriguez is a back-burner issue.

Yet, there are some high-ranking team officials who would like to have the veteran. Then there is a camp within the organization who are ready to go with Baker, and either sign Matt Treanor as the backup or find a low-cost free-agent alternative.

One thing is clear, if the Marlins do engage in serious talks with Rodriguez, it would be after the Winter Meetings. The most realistic timeline would be in January, when the market settles.

Right now, the thinking within the organization is Rodriguez will cost too much. His dollar number could drop in January, or the closer it gets to the start of Spring Training.

When the Marlins signed Rodriguez prior to the 2003 season, it was in January, after his other options dried up. Florida picked him up for one year at $10 million.

Now on the downside of his career, Rodriguez was an instrumental part of the '03 World Series title team. That season, he was a standout, especially in the playoffs.

In 2004, Rodriguez signed with the Tigers. He again went to the World Series in 2006 when Detroit lost to St. Louis.

A strong personality with Hall of Fame credentials, Rodriguez would offer veteran leadership to a young Florida pitching staff. Yet there is a question of how he would handle being in such a youthful clubhouse. Would his personality mesh or clash with his teammates?

Team chemistry has been an important issue for the Marlins.

On Monday, Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said the club is comfortable with Baker being the everyday catcher. Called up in July, Baker won the trust of the pitching staff and the team with his work ethic. He also showed a productive left-handed bat.

Even if Rodriguez signed with Florida, Baker would still get a considerable amount of playing time.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.