The free agent market has been rather slow to develop for the top sluggers available, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. With the Winter Meetings approaching, interest in the pair figured to pick up soon. Now, a week before the Meetings, it appears that a few more teams are ready to jump into the Pujols/Fielder sweepstakes. Ken Rosenthol of Fox Sports is reporting that the Cubs and Nationals have expressed interest in Pujols and Fielder.
Rosenthol says that the Cubs are now “pursuing” both Pujols and Fielder. Chicago had been tied to each slugger, perhaps more so to Pujols, but there’s been conflicting reports on the Cubs willingness to dish out the kind of cash the top free agents will require.
Now, Rosenthol says the Cubs are interested in both Pujols and Fielder because the club has acknowledged that free agent sluggers appear to be a dying breed. Rosenthol reports that the Cubs are “acknowledging two realities – a dwindling number of sluggers available in future free agent markets, and the restrictions on spending in the amateur draft” under the new CBA.
For this reason the Cubs may be willing to snag one of Pujols or Fielder while they still can. Though Fielder is younger than Pujols, sources tell Rosenthol that the Cubs are “more willing to go long-term with Pujols”. Chicago would favor Pujols because of his defensive abilities and are reportedly frightened by Fielder’s body.
While the Washington Nationals aren’t one of the teams in on Pujols, Rosenthol says they “are showing serious interest” in Fielder. Washington has first baseman Adam LaRoche, who is owed $8 million next season, but this apparently would not stop the club from pursuing Fielder.
If the Nationals are unable to reel in Fielder, Rosenthol says Yoennis Cespedes is the team’s “Plan B”. Washington has been seeking an athletic center fielder for some time now, and Cespedes certainly fits the mold.
Rosenthol lists the Cubs, Mariners, Rangers and Nationals as the clubs that are currently in on Fielder, while the Marlins, Cubs and Cardinals are the three primary teams in the mix for Pujols.
You can check out all of the available free agents by position below.