Florida also has a trade offer on the table with the Phillies for veteran Wes Helms, who was with the Marlins in 2006. To land Helms, who can also play first base, reliever prospect Scott Nestor is being dangled.
Helms is signed for $2.15 million in 2008.
The question with Helms, however, is whether he is an everyday player.
There is a chance the Marlins will acquire Cantu and Helms and have them battle it out.
It might turn into a situation where the job is shared. Alfredo Amezaga, who is arbitration-eligible and a switch-hitter, is a choice to see time at third.
Amezaga is drawing trade interest from several teams, including the Mets.
At this point, the Marlins are leaning toward retaining Amezaga, but they are open to offers.
Florida is hunting for a third baseman because four-time All-Star Miguel Cabrera was traded to the Tigers on Wednesday.
As part of that mega-deal, Florida acquired catcher Mike Rabelo.
Rabelo and Matt Treanor will split the job. Most likely, the club feels Rabelo could start about 100 games, with Treanor handling the rest.
In the next day or so, the Marlins likely will release catcher Miguel Olivo, according to an American League source.
Since the Marlins don't plan on offering Olivo arbitration next week, they will give him a few extra days to find another team.
Olivo has been Florida's starting catcher the past two seasons. He earned $2 million in '07 and could get about $3 million in arbitration next year.
Before the Marlins added Dontrelle Willis to Wednesday's trade with Detroit, they explored dealing the D-Train to the Reds.
In that package, Florida would have received outfielder Josh Hamilton.
As for teams after Cabrera, in the end, five were in the mix. The Angels and Dodgers backed off by the time the Winter Meetings started. The White Sox had steady interest throughout, and the Rangers inquired, but backed away when the Marlins denied them permission to speak with Cabrera's agent about signing a long-term contract.
The Tigers swooped in with a strong package. While Detroit also wanted, and was denied, permission to seek signing Cabrera first, it didn't prevent the deal from being completed.
Previously, the Giants showed interest in Cabrera, but they weren't willing to part with frontline starting pitchers Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain. They, instead, were offering Noah Lowry.