Obsessive Prince Fielder Watch: He’s Coming! No, Wait, the Cubs Don’t Have the Money! No, Wait!

By virtue of his presence on the market as the top remaining free agent – a 27-year-old free agent who plays a position of need for the Chicago Cubs – observing Prince Fielder’s movements is almost certainly going to reach obsessive levels around here. And that’s whether the Cubs are actually interested or not. So, the Obsessive Watch is here.

From late Friday until this morning, rumors linking and unlinking the Chicago Cubs to Prince Fielder have run rampant. The latest round-up:

  • Peter Gammons reported late last week, mere hours after guessing Fielder would land with the Cubs, that the Cubs “do not have cash to sign Fielder.” Let’s be real: of course the Cubs have the cash to sign Fielder. If the Cubs decline to sign Fielder, it will be because they’ve decided doing so was not the best allocation of that cash – which, again, they absolutely have. Remember: two days before signing Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson, the Angels told everyone who would listen that they had only $10 to $15 million to spend.
  • Bruce Levine argues that now is the time for the Cubs to heavily pursue Fielder, and cites “industry sources” who tell him the Cubs will be in hot pursuit, together with the Rangers and Marlins (who’ve since suggested they aren’t interested). I think it’s pretty safe to include the Brewers, Mariners, Blue Jays, and Nationals, as well.
  • Milwaukee writer Tom Haudricourt continues to guess – based, in part, on what hears from folks around Milwaukee, that Fielder will wind up with the Cubs.
  • That Haudricourt tweet references a Joel Sherman article, which has been making the rounds. In it, Sherman canvasses executives, who guess (I’m making sure to distinguish between “guesses” and “sources” here, so take heed) that Fielder will end up with the Cubs. The rationales offered, however, are, to me, only half convincing: (1) Theo Epstein will want to make a big splash (I just don’t buy that), and (2) Epstein recognizes the lack of serious power becoming available over the next few years (that, I buy, and hope Epstein sees it that way – of course, that doesn’t mean Fielder is the only solution to this pending problem).
  • Sherman adds, more concretely, that the Cubs are “definitely” bidding on Fielder. But, Phil Rogers says the Cubs “haven’t been involved heavily but the Pujols signing shows how quick that can change.” Rogers adds that the Rangers aren’t reaching out to Fielder, which strikes me as obviously incorrect.
  • For my part, I’m told the Cubs have been interested in signing Fielder for some time, but there are three complicating factors: (1) the Cubs strongly prefer a five-year deal, and Fielder is likely to get offers longer than five years, (2) the Cubs have wanted to see if Kendrys Morales would be non-tendered or otherwise made available, or if other trade talks would net the Cubs a young first base option, before moving hard on Fielder, and (3) the Cubs may prefer to spend the bulk of their offseason dollars in other ways (which, I know, is a bit cloak and dagger, but that’s as far as I can go). None of these factors should be shocking, given the long-term direction the new front office wants to take.
  • What about the offers out there? Reports are pretty sparse, unlike with Albert Pujols. I doubt offers have not yet been made, but nothing concrete has yet been reported. The plausible range of offers remains from as low as five years and $125 million, to as high as eight years and $200 million. Fielder’s agent isn’t offering much in the way of details, only sticking to his guns that longer is better. “I’ve had people come out [and say] ‘Oh, you ought to do a three-year deal,’” Boras said. “Well, that doesn’t fit anybody’s purposes in doing these things. The length of a contract has a lot to do with an understanding from both sides about what franchise players are and what they mean, the branding part, the whole media rights part .…  All those things go into it. That initial concept is ‘the shorter the better.’ But The reality of it is, in these types of players, it’s usually is not the best dynamic for the franchise .… The great thing about young free agents is the probability of performance at optimal levels is so high for the majority of the years of the contract.”

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

77 responses to “Obsessive Prince Fielder Watch: He’s Coming! No, Wait, the Cubs Don’t Have the Money! No, Wait!”

  1. Kyle

    As far as I can tell, the only things out there that are worth spending significant money on are Fielder, Darvish and (debatably) Cespedes.

    But there seem to be a lot more than three teams with significant cash to spend.

    Expect FA talent to only get more expensive in coming years. After a few years of stagnation, I expect we are going to see some significant inflation in coming years.

  2. jstraw

    The photo that illustrates this article…man, I don’t ever want to see those kinds of shitty theatrics performed in Cubs uniforms. Ugh.

    1. Mike

      Agreed! As soon as the Cubs got Epstein, I was questioning if he would go after Fielder because of his character. Those types of theatrics don’t seem to be the style of the Epstein/Hoyer regime.

      1. paul

        hey Mike, do you remember the “idiots” isn’t that what they called themselves in Boston?

        1. Mike

          I am actually not sure what you are referring to? Can you please elaborate?

          1. paul

            Mike, what i am talking about is the team loved joking around. They played a game well, acted like kids and had fun. The team bonded together and called themselves the idiots. look it up, it wasn’t that long ago. I think Theo, and most people loved it. oh and by the way they WON

          2. hogie

            The team that won Boston’s first world series under Epstien called themselves “the Idiots” Kevin Millar was on that team and made several references to it when he got an invite to ST with the Cubs.

            1. DRock

              I’m with Paul on this one. I want to see some “swagger” with the Cubs and a winning tradition ushered in. Hate it when we get all uptight in the playoffs and always choke!

              1. Mike

                Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind a little swagger as long as it is done with some class. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of winning games. It can and will happen if not careful.

                1. njriv

                  Yeah I agree, having some team swag builds chemistry. Remember in 2007 and 2008 when the Cubs were good, and they had that double finger point to the dugout every time they got a hit? They had good team chemistry, and as of now that has really died down. You look in the dugout and it looks like nobody cares. Like Brenly said, a “dead-ass team.”

    2. Sam

      Really? Because I’d love to see those kind of theatrics… You know why? Because it would more than likely mean that we are winning

    3. paul

      I must admit when the Brewers pulled off that stunt I kind of enjoyed it. The team looked like they were together as a team and enjoying success

      1. Sam

        Exactly, this past season the Cubs, for the most part, looked uninspired.

    4. T C

      That was after a game winning homer. Why would that be any less acceptable than jumping around like a bunch of morons?

      Also, jeez, it’s a kid’s game man, people get too serious about players having fun on the field. It’s a game, have some fun

      1. jstraw

        I hate premeditated, rehearsed celebrations in all sports, at all times. I also hate players consuming food on the field. Castro can spit out the damned seeds before he leaves the dugout.

        Yes, I am a curmudgeon.

        Get off my lawn.

    5. ferrets_bueller

      That whole Brewers team was a bunch of d-bag show offs.

      1. Sam

        Oh god no! Athletes enjoying the game they play? What kind of sick twisted reality are we living in? Child please

        1. Lamichael

          [Edit. - Come on, man. That is not tolerated.]

          1. Sam

            Really dude?? Get that racist trash outta here

  3. Fishin Phil

    Brett,

    That is all very interesting, but what does Mike Hunt have to say about it??

     

    1. Justin Jabs

      +1.

  4. Mike

    If the Cubs sign Fielder, they better also go after some pitching. Any word on possible pitching targets?

    1. DRock

      Not sure, but my vote is Kuroda.

  5. John

    If they don’t get Fielder, I sure hope they go after the international talent hard. Maybe trade for trumbo. Sign some starting pitching.

  6. hansman1982

    And this my friends, is why Boras is a super-agent:

    “…‘the shorter the better.’ But The reality of it is, in these types of players, it’s usually is not the best dynamic for the franchise.”

    So franchises NEED to sign crippling long-term contracts to players so they can market them properly.

  7. ferrets_bueller

    I wouldn’t mind a 5 year deal for anything around or less than 150 million, or a longer deal that is HEAVILY frontloaded- something like a 5 year, 130 with a couple of cheaper years at the end.
    Whether he would be interested in either remains to be seen…
    If the market is around those areas, I’d love it. But if were talking 8 years, 200 million…hell no.
    I’d rather get Darvish then. Although what I’ve heard about his personality scares me a little. Too much ego. But the dude has filthy stuff.
    I’m not a scout, but I’d rather not get cespedes. He strikes me as a guy whose going to hit .260 and 25-30 homers, ceiling. I’d rather not sign a 26 year old for a ton of money who has never faced real pitching.

    1. The Other Matt

      I admit I haven’t heard anything about Darvish’s personality, but after going through the Milton Bradley and Zambrano show, I would think Jeffrey Dahmer would be a step down on personality issues.

    2. Luke

      Depends on the deal for Cespedes. If I could get .260, 25-30 HR with his speed and defense thrown into the bargain on a 6 years, $65 million deal, I think I’d do it.

      6 years, $95 million? I’m not so interested.

      1. jr5

        Cespedes…I’m just not sold. His numbers, at 26, in the Cuban league? I’m just not sold. He could be amazing, and that could all translate, but I’m just not sure it will.

        Fielder is more of a sure thing, to me, and isn’t really much older.

        Cespedes scares me, a lot. Soler’s age makes him much more attractive, in my eyes.

  8. Luke

    I’d prefer a 5 or 6 year deal for Fielder, but I’m warming to the idea of 8 or more. The argument against that is the idea that big guys don’t age well with Cecil Fielder and Mo Vaughn as the proof.

    But Cecil Fielder was never (1) as good or (2) as durable as Prince, and Mo Vaughn got hit with some serious injuries. That doesn’t mean Prince won’t be hit with the same fate, but I’m no longer convinced that he definitely will.

    And given that Boras is his agent, you know the deal will break some sort of a record, somewhere. I’m not sure I can get behind a 10 year, $255 million deal yet… but I’m thinking about it.

    1. hansman1982

      So far Prince’s career is closer to Vaughn than Cecil.  I think Prince will have a career until about age 35 with 34 being an average year.

  9. Eric S

    The reason that the Brewers had those “theatrics” was due in large part to team chemistry. Chemistry that was created in large part (pun intended) by Fielder and Braun. When the Cubs aren’t busy throwing punches at each other, they are throwing one another under the bus. Just ask Zambrano what he thought about Carlos Marmol blowing a game for him last year. I for one will welcome the “Prince” with open arms and roll out the red carpet for him WHEN he signs with Cubs. Because as we all know “IT’S GONNA HAPPEN!”

    1. TWC
  10. die hard

    If getting Fielder does not assure Cubs make the playoffs each year of his contract, then my vote is no because in fact the Cubs are cash strapped. Ricketts family would have to sell the team if sign Fielder and dont make playoffs. Signing him would also have to then mean trading Garza to free up cash.

    1. EQ76

      2 things.. 1) what player signing assures anybody of going to the playoffs each year?? 2) when did the Cubs become a poor franchise with no cash?? I’m tired of hearing how we have no cash.. what the hell is that about? We have a damn AAAA roster with only 2 bad contracts (Soriano & Z). We have the money people!

      1. hansman1982

        STOP FEEDING THE GREMLINS AFTER MIDNIGHT!!!

        1. EQ76

          how quickly i forget..

    2. paul

      Brett,
      Is there a way you could put Die Hards comments in a special place. I would hate to think I might miss one of his comments. as much as I hate to admit it, I am starting to think he might be part of the reason i check this site so often. I am really having a hard time figuring out his posts. I truely hope that he is having fun with them, I SURE AM !!!

      Lets have an ALL DIE HARD section so I can just click on that link

      1. Kyle L

        Agreed. I always go straight to die hard’s comments. Give him his own column?

  11. die hard

    Rumor has it that Soriano has been working hard with infield coach on regaining his infielder skills so can move to 1B…would solve alot of problems if he could make transition to 1B..Ernie Banks did it at that age

    p.s. would be cheaper than Fielder and open up LF for Campana to bat leadoff

    1. Cubbie Blues

      Campana with a 5.2% walk, 19.4% K and .303 OBP in 2012 doesn’t strike me as a lead-off man. Plus he only saw 3.6 pitches per plate appearance.

    2. Sam
    3. Poopypants McGee

      did Bruce Willis tell you this? It actually sounds like an Alan Rickman rumor.

    4. DRock

      Die Hard strikes yet again…

  12. nonesuch

    I would be ok with 6 yrs with some team options.  We could use his lefty power and rbi potential.  I’m not so crazy about his defense and that won’t help Castro’s error rate, but man, where is the offense going to come from?  I suppose Soto is due for an “up” year but after that?  Soriano and what?  Byrd?

    While I’d prefer to spend the money on starting pitching, there are no Roy Halladays out there.  Cubs can and should make attractive offer but I hope it’s not a 8yr guaranteed.  Prince is probably not Plan A at 1B so that’s why we hear all the conflicting reports.  Kendrys Morales is probably more of a Plan A, could Carlos Pena at a short term deal be Plan D or E?

  13. NL_Cubs

    I’m so hot and cold on the idea of Fielder wearing Cubby pinstripes. If they do sign Fielder, I hope to hell they have a “Tub-O-Goo” performance clause that voids the contract when he steps on the scale and the reading hits XXX #’s.

    Money better spent going after Darvish and/or Cespedes IMO.

  14. CubsFanBob

    My concerns with Fielder are 1) who is going to protect him in the lineup ? and 2) his defense

    1. NL_Cubs

      Especially with wild throwing Castro on the other end.

  15. baseballet

    http://www.obstructedview.net/articles/major-league-baseball/how-much-is-prince-fielder-worth.html

    A post from a Cubs blog using statistical analysis to determine what Prince is worth. Their conclusion: “…6 years and $125 million is about the highest I’d go.”

  16. Mdurben

    Fielder is exactly the right player for this team. Good locker room presence, left handed power, and hustles every play. When is the last time anyone on the team ran out a ground ball(even for an out) besides lemahuie? And he’s gone. Unless there is a zambrano to somewhere for a first baseman, the only options right now are Pena and fielder.

    1. John

      Zambrano hustles. But no I agree, they need to get Prince.

  17. racist

    @sam SHUT UP BOY.

  18. John

    I am starting to think that Carrie Muskat is a complete idiot. In her Inbox column, she says that the Cubs could have used Bryan Lahair’s 38 HR’s in the Majors. Sure they could have, but do you really think that he would have hit that many in the majors? Ian Stewart hit a whopping zero HR’s last year in Colorado but managed to his 14 in AAA with a bad wrist. Sounds like the talent level is extremely lower in AAA. I think Lahair could be a decent 1B but so could Micah Hoffpaiur. This is why we need to get Prince this year. There is not too much available next year besides some good starting pitching who will either have their options picked up or signed to extension before they even reach FA.

    1. NL_Cubs

      “I am starting to think that Carrie Muskat is a complete idiot…”

      Welcome to the club!

    2. Luke

      LaHair might not have hit 38, but I wouldn’t dismiss it. If he were just another AAAA player, the scouts wouldn’t be talking about him at all. And they are talking, and have been since he showed up in the majors in 2011.

      The scouts who like LaHair in a full time job in majors next season are not basing that just on his AAA numbers, but more on his swing and his plate approach when he got called up. There are scouts who legitimately believe that LaHair has got it figured out and will be good enough to hold down a major league starting job next season, either in left field or at first base.

      I’m reluctant to list him as anything other than a platoon player for now, but I would have no issues with LaHair taking the job of left bat off the bench.

    3. Kyle

      38 HRs for a veteran in the PCL is the equivalent of like four in the majors. Maybe five.

      1. JB88

        Come now. Soto hit 26 in his full season in the PCL and then 23 in his rookie season. Hyperbole should be left at the door, especially when it is as silly as this.

        1. Kyle

          All hyperbole is silly. That’s the point.

          You can’t just pick out one data point, one which doesn’t even really fit the discussion, and make a declarative statement like that.

          The non-hyperbolic version: 38 HRs for a PCL veteran is more like 20-25 in the majors. It’s a hitter’s park in a hitter’s league, and veteran fastball hitters tend to do every well there compared to how they do in the majors.

          Throw in the fact that it was a career year and an outlier from his previous stats, I’d say projecting him to something like 15-20 home runs is more than fair. For a poor defensive 1b, that’s not enough to earn a starting job in the bigs.

          1. Lou

            Well said.

  19. BetterNews

    I read Pena might sign a 1 year deal.

    1. DRock

      Hopefully not with the Cubs.

      1. BetterNews

        Yes, he might accept a one year deal with the Cubs. Not sure what that means looking at the big picture. This would mean that he will be with the Cubs if he accepts I think.

        1. Cubbie Blues

          Cubs already offered Pena a one year deal through arbitration.

          1. BetterNews

            Yes, but I don’t think he ever declined. I know there were rumors he would not accept but I had heard nothing more.

            1. Kyle

              The deadline has already passed, so he definitely declined arbitration.

            2. Cubbie Blues

              Per Muskat on the 7th both A-Ram and Pena declined.

              1. BetterNews

                That might be, but I think he can still accept a 1 year contract if he doesn’t have a tangible alternative. Not sure on this.

                1. hansman1982

                  He is free to sign with whomever he wants for whatever contract he wants.

                  That said, if he signs with the Cubs there goes any compensatory pick.  My guess is right now he is plan D behind: (not in actual order)

                  1. Fielder

                  2. Morales/Trumbo/Sanchez/Morrison trade

                  3. Internal options

                  Ok, so if I HAD to bet today that would be my order.

  20. jim

    The CUBS “biggest” problem, I believe is starting pitching.
    DEMPSTER is, at best, a No 2 pitcher ( don’t hold your breath!)
    ZAMBRANO (has the talent & we can tape his mouth shut) can still win games
    GARZA Needs to stay. He can win a lot of games (with team’s support)
    WELLS (not sure I want him on our team)
    ****************************************************
    IF we can’t get FIELDER, I would keep PENA & try to get him to improve his BA
    THEN, I would definitely go after better starting pitchers!

    p.s. MR EPSTEIN: players are steadily being moved, so PLEASE don’t waste
    much more time B4 making some deals!
    GOD BLESS! GO CUBS!

  21. jj

    I think the idea of moving soriano to first base is not that bad of idea,he has the athletic ability and infield experience do a good job. Just moving him away from the ivy wall would help, t

    1. paul

      I agree that moving sorryanus away from the ivy wall would be a good idea, but I just think it needs to be many, many, many miles farther away than 1st base

    2. hogie

      I think the biggest defensive skill a first baseman should have is hand-eye coordination. Watch some film of Soriano and tell me how good of hands he has. I agree it would take his weak legs out of the occasion, but I think it would create a whole new problem. If he is going to play the field, I don’t know if there is a spot I would like him at other than left, but I guess we will see if diehard’s “rumors” have any legs.

  22. Obsessive Prince Fielder Watch: The Cubs Are “Definitely” in the Mix for Prince Fielder | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    [...] report comports with what I’ve heard about the Cubs’ interest, though I’d caution that I still doubt the Cubs would be willing to make an offer to Fielder [...]