As the baseball world awaits the results of the Yu Darvish bidding process, we round up the latest on Prince Fielder. And there’s a relationship there: I would bet that, for example, if the Rangers or Blue Jays win the rights to Darvish, they are probably out on Fielder…
- Jon Morosi joins other national pundits in the “the Cubs are definitely in on Prince Fielder” category, despite opposing views from the local media (more on that in a bit). As usual, though, it sounds more like a guess than a sourced rumor: “Almost by accident, the Cubs are Fielder’s most plausible suitor. Fielder wouldn’t need to switch leagues or divisions. He would be a force at Wrigley Field, where he owns a career 1.003 OPS. Fielder, who lives in the Orlando area, would prefer to play east of the Mississippi. The Cubs have a big payroll and must reinvigorate their fan base. There are no guarantees that a marriage will happen. But it would make a ton of sense.” Morosi says that the only other two teams that “we know” are in on Fielder are the Mariners and Orioles.
- Tim Brown says the Cubs, together with the Mariners and Blue Jays, “are believed to have been among the more aggressive suitors.” Richard Justice agrees that those are the three most logical suitors, though he ranks them Blue Jays, Mariners, Cubs.
- The Sporting News’ Anthony Witrado believes the Cubs are a “legitimate contender” for Fielder, and thinks they can land him if they are so inclined. “I think if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer want him and they go after him, Fielder is going to seriously consider whatever they offer because it’s a big market, it’s somewhere where he can build his brand and it’s a team that he’s not signing a three- or four-year deal where it’s almost a win-now situation,” Witrado said. “He’s looking for something in the neighborhood of eight or 10 years after what Pujols got and so he’s in this thing for the long haul. So if he feels like the Cubs can be a winner three years down the road, four years down the road, then all of a sudden, that’s when he’s in his prime and his contract looks really good. He’s a middle of the order bat, an elite hitter while this team comes into dominance in the Central, assuming the Cubs can sell him on it.”
- Phil Rogers thinks it makes sense that the Cubs would be in on Fielder, but guesses – because of the questions about Fielder’s defense, conditioning, and consistent offensive performance – that the Cubs’ two biggest targets are Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes.
- Bruce Levine, who has consistently assertive in his belief that the Cubs *should* go after Prince Fielder, was markedly pessimistic in a recent chat about the Cubs’ chances to land Fielder – if they pursue him at all. “The Cubs are not going to get into a bidding war for Fielder. They don’t have that kind of money. Epstein might wait for the initial offers to take place and make one offer. But the Cubs are already at over $100 million in commitment for next season and still have a lot of work to do.” Levine later adds that “all indications” are that the Cubs are not in on Fielder. Given Levine’s public stance on Fielder, and the overall glum tone of the chat, I’ve got to believe that he’s been told from a Cubs source or two that the money probably isn’t there for Prince Fielder. Now, query whether that’s legitimately the case – teams frequently send out this kind of message to gain a bargaining advantage on a guy they’ve wanted all along. Still, it’s a bit of a downer if you believe Fielder is the Cubs’ best move at first base for 2012 and beyond.
- So, how do you square the local sense that the Cubs aren’t in on Fielder with the national sense that they are? A possible explanation is the respective sources of info: namely, that the local media is getting their intel from Cubs sources, and the national guys are getting it from agents and other executives. Scott Boras, for example, is never going to deny that a team – especially a big market one like the Cubs – has interest in a client of his. Does that mean the Cubs have been talking to Boras, and that information is leaking to the national media? Maybe. But it could also just be Boras being Boras.
- Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer aren’t keen on leaks, unless they are done so by design. In that way of thinking, leaks saying the Cubs are in on Fielder from the agent side, but leaks from the Cubs’ side saying the Cubs aren’t in on Fielder would make some sense. That is to say, maybe the Cubs are trying to get the word out that they aren’t interested, but the national media – having spoken to those in the Fielder camp – aren’t buying it. Just a thought.
- I’ve not heard anything new on Fielder from my sources, for what it’s worth. So, from what they’ve previously said, together with all of this, my gut tells me: the Cubs would be interested in Fielder on a short-term, high-dollar contract, but they prefer – if at all possible – to spend the money elsewhere. (My guess? On Darvish and Cespedes (as well as Cuban prospect Jorge Soler).) If that’s right, don’t expect to hear anything new from the Cubs on Fielder in the next couple days.