Playing The Field- Where Will Fielder Land?

Fielder leads list of players in limbo

The Sports Xchange

By now, Prince Fielder surely expected his own celebratory press conference, when he would join the flurry of activity for baseball’s offseason elite players. He would flash a big grin, don a jersey and cap, and prepare for a season as a poster child for his franchise, the way Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Jose Reyes had before him.

But, with just a month to go before spring training, Fielder—despite his .299 average, 38 home runs and 120 RBI last season for the Milwaukee Brewers—remained a man with no cap or jersey to wear and no contract to celebrate Friday.

Instead, Yu Darvish, the Japanese pitching sensation, was expected to be feted by the Texas Rangers—his own lavish deal potentially damaging Fielder’s ability to sign with Texas.

Prince Fielder (left) and Derrek Lee

 

Fielder, who at 27 has 230 career home runs, topped the list of a few high-profile names who remained unsigned at that point, including Roy Oswalt, Edwin
Jackson, Johnny Damon and Cuban power hitter Yoennis Cespedes.

None were as surprising to see still listed as free agents as Fielder, who was the most talented slugger available this side of Pujols. He could become the first player to sign a $100 million or more contract this late in the offseason, according to SI.com.

Or he could continue to be surprised at his lack of activity.

While it made sense to think teams were initially waiting out the fellow first baseman Pujols before committing to Fielder, it’s now been more than a month since he signed with the Angels, leaving Fielder alone atop the free agent class.

But while there are reports of interest from the Rangers (even after the Darvish signing) and Washington Nationals and a few other rumors, Fielder has remained in limbo. Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum has already ruled out Fielder as a possibility because the club recently acquired young, power-hitting first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

The usual big-spending New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are set at first base.

So, Fielder’s choices have been limited.

“I think everybody thought he would have signed by now,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “In that regard, I’d have to say it’s a little surprising.”

Despite missing all but one game in the past three seasons, though, there have been reports that Fielder’s 5-foot-11, 275-pound frame have caused some suitors to fret over the prospect of a long-term deal.

Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks at Spring Trai...

With Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, notorious for working out mega-contracts for his biggest clients, the Brewers never made a formal long-term offer to retain the first baseman who had not played for another team, according to the Journal Sentinel.

Instead, the team early in the offseason attempted to get Fielder to sign for one year and the chance to hit the free-agent market again next year, but he didn’t bite, according to the paper.

The Nationals could make a push, according to SI.com, as they have built a star-studded young rotation and would like to supplement it with Fielder’s bat.

The Rangers are not quite out of the running. Multiple reports have indicated Texas could still try to pull off their own version of the 1-2 punch the division rival Angels did in landing Pujols and Wilson, by pairing Fielder with Darvish. Rangers GM Jon Daniels told reporters signing Fielder was “very unlikely” after the huge financial commitment Texas made in acquiring Darvish from Japan—nearly $120 million in posting fees and a six-year contract.

But reports persisted that Texas, after reaching the World Series, but losing two years in a row, could still land Fielder.

Oswalt, 34, owns a 159-93 career record, but struggled with back pain last season for the Philadelphia Phillies. That has likely scared off teams. Reports indicated there could be some interest by the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox, but that neither team was likely to commit.

Damon has reportedly drawn the interest of his old team, the Yankees, who are looking for a cost-effective DH. With Carlos Pena re-signing with the Tampa Bay Rays, that gives the Yankees one less option, though they were also reportedly talking to another ex-DH, Hideki Matsui.

Jackson, another Boras client, went 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA last year, and reports have indicated his price tag has scared teams off. The Yankees had deemed him too expensive for their budget, and they added two big names to the rotation in Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda.

The Cubs, Chicago White Sox and Florida Marlins have reportedly been interested in Cespedes, with the Cubs reportedly leading the race for the slugging outfielder’s services.

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