Many teams have added free agent first baseman Prince Fielder to their Christmas wish lists, but, unlike toys and other normal gifts, Fielder can only land under one club’s tree this offseason. While the front-runners in the Fielder sweepstakes have been difficult to determine, we do know that several teams have expressed interest in Prince. The Cubs, Mariners, Rangers, Orioles, Blue Jays, Nationals and Marlins have all been tied to Fielder this offseason. Let’s take a look at the Prince’s list of potential suitors and see how likely each team is to sign Fielder.
This list is in no certain order; it includes each of the teams that have been linked to Prince Fielder thus far this offseason.
Last week, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports named the Cubs as his favorites to sign Fielder. Since then, it’s been rumored that the Cubs are entering a rebuilding period in which they may truly try to clean house and start over. This no longer sounds like the type of team that looks to invest $100 million-plus on one player. To fill their hole at first base, the Cubs are rumored to be interested in acquiring Anthony Rizzo from the Padres.
Still, Matt Garza remains a Cub and president Theo Epstein is said to realize that a player such as Fielder may not be hitting the open market again for some time.
The Mariners have been one of the more sexy picks to land Fielder all offseason. Seattle needs offense, and has expressed serious interest in Fielder. Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik drafted Fielder and loves his ability.
While this might seem like a fit, it’s unknown how much money the Mariners have to spend this winter. Fielder’s interest in calling Safeco Field home is also unknown, as the Mariners have won 67 or less games three of their past four seasons.
I had a feeling Prince would ultimately end up landing in Arlington. After missing out on starting pitching for much of the offseason and watching their division rivals add C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols, the Rangers seemed poised to make a splash this winter.
While the Rangers have remained in the Fielder rumor mill, their winning of the Yu Darvish bidding makes another big splash less likely. The Rangers could have to commit a total of $125 million to Darvish this winter, and Nolan Ryan has repeatedly said Texas is not looking to add Fielder.
Prince Fielder is a free agent so it makes sense that he’s been tied to the Marlins this offseason. Even so, this doesn’t appear to be a likely fit.
The Marlins were in on the Albert Pujols bidding and clearly have money burning holes in their collective pockets this offseason. However, Miami hasn’t expressed the same level of interest in Fielder as they did in Pujols, as many believe they are concerned with Prince’s body.
Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports called the Orioles the “eastern version of the Mariners”. It’s no secret that the Orioles have been seeking a middle-of-the-order bat for some time. The club could certainly afford to spend what it should take to bring in Fielder, but Baltimore has recently said they won’t get in on the bidding for Prince unless the market collapses.
There’s also the question of Fielder’s level of interest to play in Baltimore. The Orioles just brought in a new general manager and seem to be in a residual state of rebuilding. With the level of competition the American League East currently sports, it’s unlikely that Baltimore will be a fit for Fielder this winter.
The Blue Jays should be a ridiculously intriguing club next season. Toronto has money to spend, and may be looking to enter win-now mode. They’ve already pursued Carlos Beltran and Yu Darvish, and Toronto could easily jump into the Fielder bidding.
If the Blue Jays are able to add Fielder and another arm this winter, they could quickly turn into a force in the AL. How crazy would it be to have Fielder and Jose Bautista in the same lineup?
Once the Nationals added starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez, many wondered if the club would look to continue its climb to contention by targeting Fielder this winter. Washington now boasts one of the league’s best young starting staffs and is getting ready to debut one of baseball’s top young talents, Bryce Harper. While many figured the Nationals were a year or two away from contending in the NL East, Washington may be one Prince-ly addition away from giving the Phillies a run for their money.
However, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo recently came out and said that Adam LaRoche would be their first baseman next season. LaRoche shouldn’t preclude the Nationals from adding Fielder this winter, but at this point the team is merely looking to improve its bench.
So, as you can see, the Prince Fielder sweepstakes are really not much clearer than they were entering the offseason. Other free agents have been plucked from the market, but Fielder remains looking for a new home. If developments continue at current pace, it appears likely that Fielder and agent Scott Boras will have to accept a reduced deal, in years and total value.