If they're not serious, they're crazy.
I'll go with serious.
You don't spend $9 million a year on a closer if you're not serious about trying to win. And the Marlins just gave Heath Bell $27 million for the next three years.
If it's their only big move of the winter, it makes no sense. But if it's their only big move of the winter, that would be a shock.
As CBSSports.com colleague Scott Miller wrote Thursday, the Marlins are optimistic about signing Jose Reyes, one of the biggest free agents out there. They're aiming high on the starting pitching market, as well, with Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson both having admired the new ballpark in Miami.
Already, they've done what Marlins teams in recent years haven't, by committing significant money to the back of the bullpen. Sources confirmed to CBSSports.com that Bell agreed to a deal late Thursday night, and that it will pay him $9 million a year.
For a closer, that's serious money.
You know the only closers who are signed for $9 million or more next year?
Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, Jose Valverde . . . and Heath Bell.
The stat guys can argue about whether any closer is worth that much. I'll only tell you that Bell is the one and only closer in baseball with 40 saves each of the last three years, and that he has done it with an outstanding 90.4 percent conversion rate.
Having a good closer guarantees you nothing. Bell's Padres lost 91 games in 2011, even as he had another fine year.
But teams serious about winning understand that they'd better have an outstanding closer, even if it means committing big money (it doesn't always, as the Braves proved with rookie Craig Kimbrel).
At this point, we've got to count the new Marlins as serious.
And if they follow it up by signing Reyes and a starting pitcher, we'll count them as very, very serious.
Oh, and as for the Padres, the team Bell hoped to stay with?
There's no way they could justify spending $9 million a year on a closer. But this works out for them, too. They'll get two draft picks, a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds, and the ninth pick in the second round.
In the past, that second pick would have come from the Marlins, but under a clause in the new basic agreement between the players and owners, Bell's signing didn't cost the Marlins a draft pick.
Signing Reyes would cost them a pick, but that's fine. They can afford it -- just as they could afford $27 million for a closer.