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As the Prince Fielder saga (at what point do things become “a saga”?) drags on longer than folks expected, with little in the way of hard reports of offers, it’s easy to let the speculation run wild.

Perhaps that, or some poorly-sourced information, led Peter Gammons yesterday to claim that “several GMs think [Fielder's agent Scott] Boras could do a 3 year Prince deal at $26M per year, [and then] go back on the market at 30 and beat Pujols’ AAV.” ESPN’s Buster Olney chimed in, “confirming” that some GMs “think Fielder should sign a pricey three-year deal.”

Great news, right? The Cubs – or Fielder’s other suitors – could have him exclusively for his prime years, with no commitment thereafter.

But, strangely, could a three-year deal be too short for the Cubs? For a team most – including me – believe would bid on Fielder only if he were willing to accept a “short-term” deal, it’s hard to say the Cubs would be out on Fielder because he didn’t want more than three years. It’s understandable why they might be, though: with a window of competitiveness that might not open until after 2012, the years a “good” Cubs team might have Fielder could be limited to one or two if he came on a three-year deal.

We could go on about what would be the sweet spot for the Cubs – four years? five? six? – but Fielder’s agent did his best to make the discussion academic.

When asked about the reports that his client might consider a high dollar three-year deal, Boras was firm in his denial.

“Not only is that inaccurate and delusional,” Boras said to ESPNChicago, “but it seems that some people have gotten into their New Year’s Eve stash just a little bit early this year.”

And then the man known for inventing “mystery teams” and using the ensuing media frenzy to his advantage when his clients aren’t seeing the market they’d like, added a dig.

“It appears some baseball people are just bored,” Boras said. “That’s when you hear ideas like that floated.”

Whateves. Maybe we are bored.

The Rangers, among about five or six other teams, remain in the mix, for what it’s worth, which could open up any number of ancillary transactions (the most obvious of which, at least as it concerns the Cubs, is the renewed availability of young first baseman, Mitch Moreland). The Brewers, on the other hand, remain largely on the outside looking in, however much Fielder’s price might drop.

Whether the Cubs are more like the Rangers or the Brewers is unknown. I stick to what I’ve said all along: if Fielder is willing to consider a five-year deal, the Cubs will consider making a competitive five-year offer. If, on the other hand, he sticks to his seven to ten-year demand – and a team steps up into that range – the Cubs will be out.

  • Mark

    I really would love it if every team committed to not offering anything more than 3 years and take a stand to Boras.

    • PKJ

      You make the assumption that teams care about Scott Boras. Teams care about other teams and will do whatever it takes to maintain competitive advantage.

  • pfk

    I am so tired of reading about people’s “sources.” Most of it just to get headlines or seem “plugged in” at the highest levels in order to be relevant. Drives me nuts. I just treat it as fun and games.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Where’ve you been? Still traveling the world?

      • pfk

        Yep, living in Florence, Italy these days. I have to stay up way late to catch the Cubs games. Which is why I love it when they play during the day – even thought it hurts them to have so many day games. I’m just loving the hell out of this front office! Clearly, they have a plan and are keeping it close to the vest.

    • 2much2say

      Well my sources, who are very well placed, in addition to being unimpeachable have it on good authority from a high ranking figure in the heirarchy of the administration, who happens to be beyond reproach, that in fact and I can’t understate this more, because you gotta a believe me when I tell you and I would never lie, SQUIRREL

  • Matt

    Color me unexcited about the possibility of Mitch Moreland becoming available. If Moreland is the caliber of player we’re content with in the near term, why not just play LaHair? If you don’t get Fielder or a high-level prospect, along the lines of Rizzo, just play La Hair and see what he can do. Guys like Moreland or Loney , if the Dodgers were to sign Fielder, make zero sense for us.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Your point is well-taken, but Moreland is more well thought of than Loney. Moreland still has quite a bit of upside, and was on his way to a huge year last year until his wrist mucked things up.

      Again, though: it’s a fine point.

      • CubFan Paul

        when did Moreland become available? this is news to me, seriously.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          He didn’t. If the Rangers sign Fielder, he might.

          • CubFan Paul

            Ooh. I have the Rangers pegged as ‘out’ on Fielder because (1) Darvish costs and (2) they have a core of players that they are actively trying to resign.

      • Lou

        Agreed. I’d rather see Moreland because of his upside.

    • The Other Matt

      Agreed. I’d rather see Lahair play than Moreland or Loney.

      • Cedlandrum

        I actually like Loney. He gets a bad rap. He isn’t great but he is better then LaHair.
        http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/l/loneyja01.shtml

        • ferrets_bueller

          James Loney is like Casey Kotchman, without the defense- in other words, terrible.

        • The Other Matt

          How do you know he’s better than LaHair? LaHair hasn’t had the opportunity yet.

  • Gene

    I am not sure if Fielder is going to he Cubs or not but I sure would take him if nothing else but to add excitement to the lineup of nothing as of yet. But my question is this what is wrong with Lahair. He tore up the minor leagues and hit alot of homeruns for us their. I know that is not MLB but can we at least mention his name as the 1B of next year, he comes cheaper when rebuilding and that is apparently what w are going to be doing if Fielder does not com to the Cubs. IS LAHAIR a defensive liability or is he just not everything that has been stated in previous posts?

    • oso

      Totally agree on LaHair. He hit well in the bigs last year too. Give the guy a chance. He’ll probably produce as well as Stewart for less money. In the end he is at least a power hitting left handed pinch hitter.

      • CubFan Paul

        i bet LaHair could put up Pena’s state line: .225/.357/.462/.819

        • Kyle

          I’ll take the under on a .357 OBP from LaHair.

          • oso

            Forget about OBP were talking about home runs, we all know that. And Lahair had 38 of them last year. 38 HRs is 38 HRs regardless of the league. BTW, he led the league in HRs last year, by ten; I’m no statistician but that seems to be a decent margin.

            • Lou

              OBP is more important. LaHair had 38 HRS in AAA. Remember Hoffpauir. That’s all I need to say.

              • baseballet

                LaHair’s OBP in 2011:
                in the minors = .405
                in the majors = .377
                in Venezuela league = .400

                What’s not to like?

                • Kyle

                  The Majors number is too short a sample to be meaningful, and the Venezuela league is miles away from being relevant.

                  The minors number is important, but you have to properly adjust it. Knock off a big chunk for the transition from AAA to MLB, a bit more for the fact that the PCL is a very hitter-friendly AAA league, and the fact that hitters tend to have overinflated numbers when they repeat a minor league.

            • BetterNews

              Are you saying 38 homers AAA equates to 38 homers in the Bigs? Hold on pal, I’m running to get the defribillator so we get the heart pumping blood back to the brain!

              • baseballet

                It’s not the same as the major leagues, but keep in mind that he hit 38 homers in only 129 games, which projects to 48 homers over a full season. And that was at the highest level possible beneath the MLB team.
                He might match Pena’s 2011 numbers but for far less money.

                • CubFan Paul

                  i agree. paying Pena last year (and the year before and next year) was the equivalent to pissing into the wind

                • BetterNews

                  I’m not saying don’t give LaHair the chance. Absolutely not what I was implying. My point was don’t expect Pena “type” home run numbers, it’s not going to happen.

                • Cheryl

                  I agree with you. I can’t understand why so many people want to down him. He had a good month in September. In my mind that earned him a chance to make the club this spring. He will get that chance, no guarantees according to Theo’s conversation with him that was reported, so at least people should hold their fire until then.

              • oso

                No

              • oso

                Nope, not saying 38 HRs in AAA=38 HRs in the bigs. I am saying that it is nothing to sneeze at, this guy is in his prime, does have a power bat, is inexpensive, will be productive and already works for the Cubs.

  • HoustonTransplant

    5 years of Fielder sounds like a strong “rebuilding” strategy to me when you’re a big market club and can afford to do so.  Anything over that and you’re right, Brett, it becomes one of those albatross contract unless it’s so front loaded it almost LOOKS like a 3-year deal.  Sign him or not, I think we’ll do the right thing.  Sign him on (more or less) our terms or not at all.  That seems to be the plan this off-season, and I’m cool with that.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I tend to agree. I just can’t see the Cubs, in their current state, caving on a seven/eight/nine year deal for Fielder.

      • CubFan Paul

        what if 7/8/9year deal is market for $22-$23Million a year? i thought it would take 6yrs at least at $23M to sign Fielder, but after Pujols screwed the market it’ll probably take 7 or 8yrs to sign Fielder.

        He’s 27yrs old. I’d do the deal for 7 or 8 guaranteed (@$23Million) if Boras comes down from $25M per year, which he might do for a sizeable signing bonus (paid out over the first few years)

        • HoustonTransplant

          Again, though, 7-8 years is a LONG time…maybe I’m just gun shy after Soriano’s massive contract, but look at how he deteriorated.  Sure he is/was older than Fielder, but he was arguably in better physical shape.  We can’t deny that Fielder is, *ahem* a big boy.  Anything over 5, regardless of $$$ seems far more risky without the potential reward it would bring.

          The ONLY way I could see something more than 5 years is with club options and, again, heavily front-loaded so that in the event he becomes unproductive, you aren’t stuck with a 20+ million/year joker just eating up a spot and lots of cash in the later years of a deal.

          If it came to sign field for 7 or more years or go with an unknown with tremendous upside, I think I’d have to choose the unknown.

  • Eric

    I’d like to respond to Boras that HE’s dipping into HIS new years stash if he thinks he’s gonna get any more than 7 years for Fielder.

  • wvcubsfan

    Anything over a five year deal and you get right back into the no-trade issues we all hate with the dead weight we have on this years team.  If Boras has to have a seven year deal then make 5 guaranteed with a player/team option in the 6th and a team option in the 7th.

  • 2much2say

    In the immortal words of Blago, Boras thinks: Fielder is F’n Golden and he’s not going to let him go for nothing. Who was in on Pujols? Marlins, Cards, Mariners, Angels
    Who’s out? Angels, Marlins, Cards / Who’s left? Mariners, Cubs / Mystery team? Texas
    Real Mystery team? Jays

    • Lou

      You actually forgot about the Nationals, who I believe will be the only team to offer Fielder a 7+ year contract. Mainly to get butts in seats and help sell that team and that stadium. If the Nats had that kind of $$ to get Werth, then they have it for Fielder. This is the team’s next big move after trading for Gonzalez. My bet is Boras gets most of what he wants and Fielder signs there.

  • SouthernCub

    I remain steadfast on this viewpoint, it makes literally ZERO sense to sign Fielder. We want him in his prime years which is the next 3, anything beyond that period is foolish.The Cubs are NOT gonna win in the next 3 yrs, not anything of substance anyway. Hes absolutely abysmal defensively and I do not want to see that fat ass trying to play 1B. Besides, aren’t the Cubs trying to upgrade defensively?! I am probably alone in this viewpoint, however I do believe this to be the wise move, or non move.

  • 2much2say

    Who is smart/dumb enough to sign him to a 7+ year deal? Jays/Mariners. Jays are in win now mode and can slide him to DH later on. Mariners are trying to fill seats and still need more pieces to compete, with Seattle he is eye candy.

  • 2much2say

    Are you really willing to settle at this point? 29 yr old Lahair? Moreland? Come on, set your sights higher than that.

    • SouthernCub

      No, its called build a solid foundation for the future, ie. trading for Rizzo or another 1B prospect and grooming him. You know the opposite of what Jim Hendry did. Its not settling its called foresight.

  • 2much2say

    At he rate Lahair is going the minute he hits 2 HR’s in a game he will have peaked.

  • Tbb

    Get Fielder, hope he puts up big stats ( SLG, OBP.WHIP, LOL, LMAO, etc.), and then trade him for prospects at the deadline.
    any more Cub cliches?

  • 2much2say

    At what point do the Cubs need a Fielder?
    It will only work when the Cubs are a piece or 2 away.
    2nd ? 3rd ? LF ? CF ? Get 2 or 3 of those pieces and sign Fielder
    I think Stewart at 2nd is 1 solution. Maybe Crisp/Jackson and Cespedes are the
    other options. That leaves 3rd. Dominguez?/Vitters. Then focus on pitching.

  • Popeye

    I have a novel concept. It appears to me that we have a young (for the most part) team that is built for defense, and not really scoring alot of runs. We also have alot of money. How about if we give Lahair a shot (since that is what he has been working his butt off for in our organization), and sign another good pitcher. If we have a defensive team that can hit decent, and a pitching staff that can keep the ball in the park, can’t we go out every day and have a chance to win? We don’t need to smack down our AAA guys that are working hard, to sign someone long term for huge money, when pitching wins ball games. Sign another good pitcher with “Fielder’s” money, and be respectable now!

  • 2much2say

    Lahair is a replacement player at best. A September call up. Unless? Can he play 3rd?

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      If you think LaHair is a replacement player at 1B, then why would you think he could play 3B?

  • baseballet

    I’m curious as to the Cubs’ financial situation and expected payroll going forward, and where that ranks with other teams. Have the recent big money signings by the Rangers, Angels and Marlins changed the hierarchy of top payroll teams? If the Cubs’ payroll remains close to its 2011 level, where would they rank in payroll for 2012?
    I’m wondering if the Cubs have dropped down a tier from the top spending teams. If so that could inform the reluctance to sign Fielder; the Cubs would have to be very careful before shelling out Verlander-level money on a first baseman unless they thought they were entering a window of contention for a WS. In terms of WAR, Fielder (5.5) only nets 3 more wins per year over Pena (2.6).

  • 2much2say

    The thing that always struck me as odd is when the Cards signed Holiday long term while Pujols had to wait his turn. Could the same thing happen in Texas with Hamilton?/Fielder?

    • Popeye

      How do you know that Lahair is a replacement player, unless he is given a chance? The thing about money ball is that you take a chance on players that have a history of good stats, and try to catch them in their prime for a smaller salary. We have the same hype over Fielder that we had over Sori, a few years back. That sounds like a plan; “Let’s relive the same mistakes that have put us in this whole”. How about if we give the kids a chance to prove themselves. What do we have to lose? We have been written off anyway. Try to catch lightening in a bottle with hungry fielders, and give them a drop dead pitching staff, to help keep the scores low. (Hudson, Moulder, etc. who was in the field that year?)

  • 2much2say

    What are the chances that the Cubs deal for Encarcion?

  • 2much2say

    The Cubs are believed to have 65 – 75 million before arbitration to spend.

  • Popeye

    Take out for your arbitration, and see what you have left. Then buy yourself a pitching staff! The year that we won the division, we had pitching.

  • 2much2say

    Of the top ten payrolls last year only the Tigers (-16%) and the Cubs (-1.7%) decreased payroll from 2010 to 2011. The Mets actually surpassed the Cubs in 2011.

    • baseballet

      So the Cubs’ payroll is remaining stagnant (or slightly declining) while new teams seem to be entering the top spending tier, if recent free agent signings are any indication.

      My question is, in 2012 would the Cubs still be considered one of the biggest spending teams? Or is their financial standing in decline in relation to the rest of the league? If so maybe we need to stop thinking of the Cubs as a “big market” team and adjust our expectations about free agent signings.

  • bluekoolaidaholic

    I am sooooo sick of hearing about Boras and The Greedy Prince.
    Leave that fat tub of goo to take his millions and go to the Blue Jays or wherever to get lazy and under achieve till his time for the next big contract. Either give LaHair a shot (he certainly deserves one) or get RIzzo or Moreland or whomever, then groom them while we are getting our team together.
    I would really hate to see Garza go, but I’m eager for a bunch of “upside”.
    I can’t wait to see how ST goes and things start to come together.

  • 2much2say

    Yankees
    $216,044,956 0.46% $215,053,064
    Red Sox
    $174,116,280 2.03% $170,650,856
    Phillies
    $165,313,989 13.59% $145,539,931
    Angels
    $143,099,729 15.89% $123,478,263
    Mets
    $142,244,744 11.51% $127,560,042
    Cubs
    $140,608,942 -1.26% $142,410,031
    White Sox
    $125,814,762 12.14% $112,197,078
    Giants
    $125,111,390 23.36% $101,417,943
    Twins
    $115,419,106 12.01% $103,039,407
    Tigers
    $113,230,923 -16.69% $135,913,308
    Cardinals
    $113,156,467 15.05% $98,354,244

  • baldtaxguy

    Things certainly clicked for Milwaukee last season and Fielder saw wonderful pitches all year, probably the most ever for him.  But I see Fielder as turning super sloth and gooey once he’s paid.  “Contract year” conditioning effort won’t be happening until the tail end of the contract, he’ll find his Dad’s ass-size early on and for the first 4-5 years, he will be productively “dead.”  Why pay for that and rack up unnecessary (more) throwing errors for Castro?  I vote for inserting an athlete into the position and save dollars for pitching, pitching, pitching….

  • RoughRiider

    I can’t see the Cubs signing Fielder for some very good reasons. The Cubs are not going to be a contending team anytime in the near future so what’s the point ? The money could probably be spent more wisely on prospects and scouting. And why would Fielder want to play for the Cubs? He can see as well as anyone else that the Cubs can’t contend this year and probably the next, unless they get very very lucky on trades and acquisitions. If he did sign with the Cubs it would be for the money not because he wanted to win. The Cubs need talented team players who love the game and have character and think that although money is important it’s not the most important.

  • baseballet

    Bryan LaHair update: He’s playing in the Venezuela league and after 45 games his OPS is .974 –He’s hit 14 home runs, which puts him on pace for 50 home runs over a full season…in Venezuela, but still. This coming right after he was the best bat in the minor leagues.

    What if this is not a fluke? We know it’s probably a fluke, but what if…? We don’t have much else to get fired up about this season, so we might as well be irrational and get LaHair fever.

    • Lou

      Well, it’s the Venezuelan league for starters. Secondly, LaHair seems like one of those dead-red fastball hitters. You know, the kind that good MLB pitching makes look foolish especially given their ability to throw pitches hard, with movement and mix in solid off-speed stuff. LaHair part time player…platooning with Soriano in LF or starting the season at 1b but finishing it somewhere else.

      • baseballet

        That doesn’t sound like LaHair fever to me. You should have said, “He’s going to hit 30 home runs and cost Ricketts almost nothing.” Now that’s LaHair fever. Catch it!

        • Lou

          Nah. We could trade for Michael Morse though if my belief is true that Fielder is going to DC. Trade-wise, he wouldn’t cost much, $$ wouldn’t cost much, and he actually did hit 30 hrs in the majors—last season!

  • BetterNews

    Yes, that is a likely scenario.

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