First baseman Prince Fielder, who is headed toward a massive free agent payday after the season, told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times yesterday he "doesn't have any problems with any team." Fielder was answering a question about whether he'd listen to an offer from the Cubs. The Scott Boras client was quick to emphasize that his focus is on the Brewers, his current employer.
There's not much of a story here, as we rarely see an elite free agent publicly rule out teams, especially midseason. Sure, Fielder probably hates the Cubs from a competitive standpoint, but eliminating them publicly would just be bad business.
Wittenmyer doesn't think the Cubs can afford to make a huge bid for Fielder – his source says the team's debt structure all but precludes a free agent megadeal for the next two or three years. Still, the Cubs appear to have a crazy amount of payroll flexibility after the season. Even if they slash payroll from $134MM to $120MM, they'd still have almost $50MM to play with in 2012 salaries. Of course, I'm not an accountant and it's more complicated than that.
Fielder, just 27, is having a season reminscent of the '07 and '09 campaigns that landed him among the top four in the MVP vote each year. He's at .300/.416/.617 with 19 home runs in 291 plate appearances. Fielder could aim for the biggest contract in baseball history for a player not named Alex Rodriguez.