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Prince Fielder Rumors
Scott Boras did it again. Just when it looked like the market for Prince Fielder had slowed late in the offseason, Boras got his prized client the fourth richest contract in baseball history. The Tigers agreed to sign the slugger to a nine-year contract worth $214MM today, giving them the most devastating 3-4 lineup tandem in the game. Here's a recap of what's been said about the deal…
- "In some sense, I'm glad he got a good contract that he's satisfied with. We knew early on that we probably weren't going to be in it. I think Prince probably knew that, too," said Brewers GM Doug Melvin to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Melvin confirmed they hadn't had serious extension talks with Fielder since Spring Training of 2010, and he credited the slugger with helping the team get back to being contenders.
- Rival executives told Joel Sherman of The New York Post that they think the signing came from ownership, not GM Dave Dombrowski (Twitter link). He says deals for other Boras clients — Johnny Damon, Ivan Rodriguez, and Magglio Ordonez — happened the same way. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports heard that owner Mike Illitch influenced the signing "100%" (Twitter link).
- The Nationals and a mystery team were strongly in on Fielder, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). The Mariners, meanwhile, told teams they didn't have money to spend on a hitter of Prince's caliber, which is why they traded for Jesus Montero according to Sherman.
- Andrew Baggarly of The Mercury News says (on Twitter) that the Giants were never really in on Fielder.
- ESPN's Keith Law, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs, and SI.com's Cliff Corcoran agree that Fielder will improve the Tigers in the short-term, but the last few years of the contract could be messy.
There's something close to a final four for Prince Fielder at this point in the sweepstakes for the free agent first baseman. There was lots of buzz about the Nationals, Orioles and Rangers yesterday, though their level of interest remains unclear. Here are the latest updates, with the most recent rumors up top:
- There is no deal in place despite some recent confusion on Twitter, Scott Boras told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
- The Marlins and Orioles are not in the mix on Fielder, tweets Rosenthal. He confirms that the Nationals appear to be the favorites.
- The Nationals must have decided they're willing to offer more than six years, Heyman tweets.
- Fielder is expected to get at least seven years, maybe even eight according to Heyman (on Twitter).
- ESPN's Buster Olney heard speculation that the Tigers would be a fit on a one-year deal, which would allow Fielder to hit the market next winter, when the Mets and Dodgers could have new ownership (Twitter links).
- The Rangers believe they are out of the bidding for Fielder, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. Talks have accelerated and could conclude today, according to Nightengale. The Nationals appear to be the favorites to sign the first baseman.
- GM Dan Duquette said he's not sure the Orioles are that interested in Fielder, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. "Lots of teams are interested in power-hitting left-handed batters, so I guess you can put us in that group," Duquette said.
- There are indications that four or five finalists for Fielder exist, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. Some say the Nationals are reluctant to offer an “ultra long” deal.
- One GM wonders if agent Scott Boras will wait until outgoing Dodgers owner Frank McCourt picks a winning bidder for the club, ESPN.com's Buster Olney writes. Boras could then sell the incoming owner on Fielder before the sale of the team becomes official. It's a risky strategy since Spring Training is just a month away and the intentions of the new owner aren't yet known.
- The Fielder sweepstakes are nearing their conclusion and the Nationals are a leading contender for him, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Some members of the Nationals’ ownership would prefer to play Adam LaRoche at first in 2012, then acquire a center fielder and move Michael Morse to first base in 2013, Rosenthal writes.
Here's the latest on the two-time defending American League champs…
- Josh Hamilton said he hasn't heard any new information from his agent about a possible long-term extension with Texas. Hamilton spoke to media (including ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett) at a Rangers winter caravan event and said he was holding to his deadline of cutting off contract talks at the start of Spring Training. Hamilton is eligible for free agency after this season but said he wanted to remain with the team. "We‘ve already told the Rangers that if it doesn’t happen before the season that they are the first ones we’ll come to after the season is over," Hamilton said.
- The Rangers' arbitration hearings with Elvis Andrus, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz have seen respectively set for February 9, 15 and 17, reports Durrett. The Rangers were known to be discussing a multiyear deal with Napoli, though the two sides had apparently focused on settling Napoli's 2012 contract first.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com describes the Rangers as "in, but not [a] favorite" for Prince Fielder (Twitter link). Fielder and the Rangers "love" each other but Heyman believes Texas doesn't have the payroll left to sign Fielder after the club signed Yu Darvish. For the full roundup of today's Fielder news, click here.
- In case you missed the news from earlier tonight, the Rangers have been discussing Koji Uehara's availability with several other teams, including the Blue Jays.
It's hard to imagine that anything's holding back the market for Prince Fielder at this point. Albert Pujols signed more than a month ago, Yu Darvish and the Rangers worked out a deal, and agent Scott Boras has taken the time to introduce Fielder to some MLB owners. It doesn't seem likely that a new suitor for the powerful free agent first baseman will emerge if Boras continues waiting, since the sale of the Dodgers won't be completed on time to convince the new ownership group of Fielder's value. We're left with rumors linking Fielder to the Nationals, Rangers, Mariners, Dodgers, Cubs and Orioles, but not much certainty. Here are the latest updates on Fielder, with the most recent notes up top:
- A Nationals source says he would be "stunned" to see the Nats give Fielder a contract for longer than seven years, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Kilgore also looks at some other recent contracts for slugging first basemen and predicts Fielder will receive a seven-year, $170MM deal with whatever team signs him.
- The Orioles haven't met with Boras and don't have a meeting scheduled, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. There's some interest, depending on Boras' asking price, but Kubatko doesn't expect the Orioles to chase Fielder. "They're nowhere near being in position to sign him," he writes.
- One GM told Rosenthal that the Rangers are in on Fielder "hard," though others say the Rangers won't go heavy on years (Twitter link).
- The Orioles are "definitely in on" Fielder and there's plenty of motivation to sign him, Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio and MLB.com tweets. Duquette is a former Orioles GM who's the cousin of current GM Dan Duquette. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out that interest from the Orioles and Nationals gives Boras leverage (Twitter link).
- The Nationals are a finalist for Fielder, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. The Rangers and at least one other club are still in the running for him.
- There's now "something close to a final four" for Fielder, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- The Rangers' management team is in the Dominican Republic for the next week, so it's doubtful the team will sign Fielder in the near future, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets.
- The Nationals continue to work on a deal for Fielder, but there was no agreement as of last night, tweets Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and ESPN.com. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel repeats (on Twitter) that there's no deal at the moment.
The Tigers are "very close" to a nine-year deal with Prince Fielder, Yahoo's Tim Brown tweets. Fielder will join Miguel Cabrera in the middle of the Tigers' order to create more than enough offense to make up for the loss of Victor Martinez.
Though the market for Fielder seemed far from robust at times this offseason agent Scott Boras has found an unexpected suitor once again.
This post was originally published on January, 24th, 2012.
Orioles GM Dan Duquette spoke to fans and the media at Orioles FanFest today, so let's round up the latest news (all links go to Twitter)…
- "Are we going to get him? I don't know. If we don't, we'll look for someone just like him," said Duquette when asked about the possibility of signing Prince Fielder according to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com. "There are some players that are attractive to us that we might be able to sign as a DH. That's still possible."
- Duquette said that the team will continue to talk to its arbitration-eligible players right up to a potential hearing, but extension talks have been tabled according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. As our Arbitration Tracker shows, Robert Andino, Brad Bergesen, Jeremy Guthrie, and Adam Jones remain unsigned.
- Jones told Ghiroli that staying in Baltimore long-term is "up to them." The outfielder is an extension candidate, but his name has come up in trade talks as well.
- Second baseman Brian Roberts has "started his workout program" according to Kubatko, though Ghiroli reports that Duquette said they need to have "more patience." Roberts is still dealing with concussion symptoms and skipped the event per his doctor's advice.
With the Yu Darvish contract all wrapped up, the Rangers have found themselves in the middle of the Prince Fielder rumormill whether they like it or not. Team co-owner Bob Simpson told Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News that the slugging first baseman is likely not an option for them at his asking price, and that he'd prefer to re-sign his own star player.
"I think he's, given our set of cards, too pricey," said Simpson. "And if that were to change, I guess they would look at that harder. But right now I think he's priced himself out of what we could do."
"We've got guys, frankly, like Josh Hamilton I would love to see re-signed. And frankly, my personal preference at this moment would be to re-sign him instead of helping Fielder. We (the ownership group) could all debate that."
Simpson said yesterday that the team is operating at a deficit and will continue to do so until their new television deal starts in 2015. Extension talks with Hamilton were put on hold until Darvish and the club's arbitration-eligible players were signed, though assistant GM Thad Levine told Todd Hollandsworth and Jim Memolo on MLB Network Radio that the two sides were "in active discussions" yesterday (mp3 here).
9:20pm: Bob Simpson, a principal owner of the Rangers, said that the club is operating at a deficit and will until the new TV contract starts in 2015, but that doesn't automatically mean that Prince Fielder is not an option, writes Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram.
5:19pm: Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan said that it would be "pretty hard to think" that a deal with Prince Fielder would develop in an interview yesterday with ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, writes Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. However, Ryan also conceded that things can always change as he added, "when you think you’re out of something, you get up the next day and find out opportunities exist."
Meanwhile, Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated writes that the Rangers and Nationals each offer unique opportunities to Fielder. The Rangers can win right away and can comfortably offer the slugger an opt-out clause. The Nationals would allow Fielder to stay in the National League and play first base exclusively, but the club is seeking stability and wouldn't want to include an opt-out clause in a deal. Verducci feels that the Rangers payroll can expand even further with a brand-new TV deal kicking in for the 2015 season.
The Rangers are set to introduce the recently signed Yu Darvish at a press conference tomorrow night, reports Jeff Wilson of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). Here's the latest from around the league…
- Some MLB executives say Matt Garza’s filing number of $12.5MM “greatly complicates” interest in him as a trade target, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney tweets. The right-hander filed for $12.5MM and the Cubs countered at $7.95MM as our Arbitration Tracker shows.
- Ryan Braun's appeal hearing for his failed drug test was today, reports Bill Madden, Andy Martino, and Teri Thompson of The New York Daily News. The three-person panel consists of union head Michael Wiener, MLB executive Rob Manfred, and independent arbitrator Shyam Dos. A decision is not expected this weekend, and no player has ever successfully appealed a positive test.
- "Of course we'd consider Prince Fielder," said Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski to Angela Wittrock of MLive.com in the wake of Victor Martinez's torn ACL. "But realistically, it's probably not a good fit … I would just say that the fit is really not there at this point."
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick wrote about the abundance of aging hitters still available on the free agent market. "Some of these guys have made so much money in their careers, the $2 million-and-less contracts don't sound very appealing,'' said an AL exec. "It's a supply and demand issue. When you have a lot of guys out there, the prices are going to get driven down.''
- Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com checks in with top Cubs prospect Brett Jackson and hears that the 2009 first rounder doesn’t get rattled by the possibility of a trade. “All players are tradable at any time,” Jackson said. “That doesn’t put me on edge." People in the Cubs organization have lots of good things to say about Jackson and the Cubs made him untouchable in compensation talks regarding president Theo Epstein, Mooney writes.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
Coming off their first NLCS appearance in 29 years, the Brewers are looking at the first nine-figure payroll in franchise history heading into 2012. Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel spoke to GM Doug Melvin, who confirmed that the team will outspend its projected budget next year.
“We’re way over what we projected our budget to be at this point,” said Melvin. “It’s over $100 million. We hoped to be in the low 90s.”
There's no indication that the Brewers will need to move some players to shed payroll, and Haudricourt notes that the $100MM+ figure includes players who under team control but remain unsigned. That includes the arbitration-eligible Shaun Marcum and Jose Veras, who filed for $8.7MM and $2.375MM earlier this week, respectively. The team countered with $6.75MM and $2MM.
Melvin also said it's unlikely the Brewers would be able to re-sign Prince Fielder even if the slugger was willing to take a one-year deal. Milwaukee agreed to sign Norichika Aoki for two years and $2.25MM yesterday, but their biggest additions came earlier this offseason: Aramis Ramirez (three years, $36MM) and Alex Gonzalez (one-year, $4.25MM).