The Marlins reeled in one of this year's top free agents in shortstop Jose Reyes, who reportedly has agreed to a six-year deal worth $106 million. Reyes, 28, led the NL with a .337 batting average and 16 triples in 2011. (AP photo)

The Philadelphia Phillies have been the class of the NL East of late with five straight division titles.

The Miami Marlins appear set on changing the landscape of the division and becoming a force to be reckoned with for the next several years.

The Marlins, who will move into a new stadium next season, have been the busiest team this offseason with the acquisitions of closer Heath Bell (three-year, $27 million deal) and most recently shortstop Jose Reyes (reportedly to a six-year, $106 million deal). It appears Miami isn’t done spending as it has reportedly offered a 10-year deal to free agent first baseman Albert Pujols and could be in the mix for left-handed starter Mark Buehrle, who first-year Marlins manager Ozzie Gullen coached in Chicago.

Albert Pujols appears to be the next target for the Marlins. Miami has offered the 31-year old All-Star first baseman a 10-year deal according to reports.

Keep in mind that the Marlins already had a shortstop in All-Star Hanley Ramirez, who likely will be forced to shift over to third base. If Ramirez cooperates with a move to third and doesn’t demand a trade, the Marlins shouldn’t have any problems offensively in 2012. Miami also has a talented young outfield duo of Logan Morrison (23 HRs, 72 RBIs in 2011) and Mike Stanton (34 HRs, 87 RBIs in 2011)

The NL East could become the toughest division in baseball with the Marlins spending spree. Division power Philadelphia could be losing Jimmy Rollins at shortstop, but still has a strong rotation anchored by Roy Halladay and has other pieces like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Hunter Pence.

Washington will get its first full season of pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg and has some young talent in catcher Wilson Ramos and shortstop Ian Desmond along with third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse. The Nationals also have some money to spend and have been linked to free agents such as Prince Fielder and Buehrle.

Atlanta, which just missed out on a wild card berth after its late season collapse, also has plenty of pitching with the likes of Tommy Hansen, Mike Minor, Tim Hudson and closer Craig Kimbrel (the 2011 NL rookie of the year) and offensive players like catcher Brian McCann, first baseman Freddie Freeman, second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielder Jason Heyward.

The Marlins spending spree obviously doesn’t guarantee they will be good, but the upgrade in talent will make them a threat in an improved NL East.

Advertisements