The tight lips of the Chicago Cubs front office is undoubtedly causing reporters fits – hence the continuously conflicting reports about the Cubs’ offseason plans. And nowhere is that tension more obvious than in the Cubs’ pursuit – er, non-pursuit – of Prince Fielder.

  • Ken Rosenthal is the latest national writer to suggest that the Cubs are in the catbird seat with respect to Fielder’s services. Rosenthal calls the Cubs “the front-runners” to land Fielder, and says the Rangers and Marlins aren’t going to bid on Fielder, and calls the Orioles an unattractive landing spot. He believes the only other two possible contenders are the Mariners, whom Rosenthal also doesn’t think are attractive, and the Nationals, who might not actually bid.
  • But, in the interest of keeping us as cynical as possible, and things as confusing as possible, Phil Rogers and Nick Cafardo each suggested last night that the Cubs aren’t even in the Fielder race, let alone at the top of the board. Notable on Cafardo’s explanation (no money) – Peter Gammons, also a Boston media personality, was the first to suggest the Cubs would be out on Fielder because of a lack of money. Coincidence that the same story is coming from two members of the Boston media? Maybe. More likely? They’ve got the same source (or their two sources have the same source), presumably a legacy member of Theo Epstein’s former staff. How well apprised do you think Theo keeps his former office-mates about the Cubs’ dealings? I’m thinking not very. If the Cubs end up “out” on Fielder it will be because they felt a winning contract would require an unreasonable commitment, not that the team “doesn’t have the money.”
  • Jon Heyman says Prince Fielder loves Chicago and loves hitting at Wrigley Field, and Heyman puts the Cubs as the second most likely team to land Fielder, behind the Rangers (who, again, Ken Rosenthal says are out).
  • The Cubs’ rumored pursuit of Fielder is also being picked up by Carrie Muskat and on Cubs.com. Here’s the thing on that: Carrie is simply reporting what other folks are saying in the media (namely the Jerry Crasnick report from yesterday and the Jon Heyman report above), so it’s not as if this is another block of wood on the fire, in terms of the substance of her reports. But it is a block of wood on the fire in terms of its mere existence. That is to say: whether Carrie knows something she can’t say or not, these kind of outside-sourced rumors don’t tend to show up in her reporting or on Cubs.com unless there’s some meat there. Cubs.com is not a rumor site.
  • Dave Kaplan says Prince Fielder would be wise to sign on with the Cubs, even if it meant a little less money or fewer years – because Fielder could become a star in Chicago. I suppose that’s true, but if the choice is five years and $125 million with the Cubs, or eight years and $200 million with the Mariners, can Fielder really make up that extra $75 million between a second contract and “being a star” in Chicago? Endorsements for guys like Fielder aren’t quite as lucrative as a simple, big ‘ole baseball contract. If it’s about the money, Fielder might end up being wiser to go elsewhere.
  • The Sporting News also calls the Cubs the favorite to land Fielder, for all the reasons you’ve already heard (need, money available, etc.).
  • In terms of the contract, Rosenthal notes that Scott Boras is demanding 10 years, but might settle for a six or seven-year deal with a higher annual value than Albert Pujols got ($25.4 million). Either way, Rosenthal cites a source who tells him Boras will want an opt-out clause built in.

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