As promised, an update on Prince Fielder, a man who – much like Matt Garza – may or may not be a part of the Chicago Cubs’ 2012 team.

And, much like was the case with Matt Garza rumors, it’s important to contextualize everything you hear these days. It may seem one day that it is plainly impossible that Fielder could come to the Cubs, and the next day it could seem almost likely. Rumors – even the most reliably sourced rumors – are merely data points. Fold them into what you know and what you believe, and allow them to shape your expectations at the margins. Give them more power than that, and you’ll only be disappointed when you find out that you – all of us – knew far less than you thought you did.

With that overwrought reminder out of the way, the latest on Prince Fielder…

  • Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who’d previously pegged the Cubs as the team that would ultimately land Fielder, now saysit’s probably going to be the Nationals. “So, if the Nats once again are negotiating secretly with Boras on Fielder, don’t be surprised. I had pegged the Mariners, Rangers and Cubs as the leading candidates to sign Fielder at the start of the off-season but now am told the Nationals are the favorite to sign him. The MLB official I talked to wasn’t sure the Nationals would go the eight to 10 years that Boras is seeking for Fielder, however. They might prefer to go shorter on the deal but as long as Boras is able to match or exceed the $25.4 million annual salary that Pujols is getting from the Angels, I’m guessing he will be happy.”
  • Nats GM Mike Rizzo recently said, barring “something extraordinary,” Adam LaRoche would be the team’s first baseman in 2012. Many are now speculating that the “something extraordinary” would be the signing of Fielder, itself. In other words, Rizzo might not have been saying anything.
  • Then again, some of the local Washington media is waiting to hear of Fielder interest – let alone “front-runnership” – from a source in the Nationals’ front office before accepting the Nats as a major player. Indeed, were the Nationals to sign Fielder, they’d likely be forced to reach the upper levels of all payrolls in baseball come 2014. Others in Washington don’t want the Nats to pursue Fielder anyway. So, are they really the front-runner? Again: caveat rumor.
  • Ken Rosenthal says some believe Scott Boras is demanding an opt-out clause in Fielder’s contract, which, of course, only benefits Fielder (and Boras). If Fielder performs well for the first three years of an otherwise reasonable seven-year deal, he walks and makes even more money (or threatens to walk to squeeze more money out of his team a la CC Sabathia). If Fielder balloons and stinks, he sticks around for the full length of his suddenly burdensome seven-year deal.
  • One final thought: if Fielder goes to the Nationals, you’re going to hear talk of Adam LaRoche coming to the Cubs (no, not Michael Morse, whom the Nats can play in the outfield). Even if the Nats eat most of his $8 million 2012 salary (and $1 million 2013 buyout), and even if LaRoche is fully healthy, I’m not sure I see why the Cubs would be more inclined to let LaRoche take the job over Bryan LaHair. Don’t get me wrong, a healthy LaRoche is likelier bet for a better 2012 season. But if the Cubs are heading toward non-youthful fall-back options like LaRoche anyway, they might as well just give LaHair a shot.
  • loyal100more

    i think at this point its safe to assume minus any major ground shaking events ( big free agents) the infield will be Lahair barney castro and stewart. the outfield is a bit harder to forsee because we do have a few decent outfielders and need to find a role for them all to play after all we are paying them. (soriano included.) plus we got a nice youngster looking to crack the roster in brett jackson. beyond that i think the rotation will look different between now and opening day but wouldnt put it out of reason to see garza not in it, and possible dempster as well.

    • King Jeff

      If the rotation changes between now and spring training, I think it will also change the potential lineup. I still think they are going to add someone to at least compete with LaHair at first, if they don’t go out and trade for a definite starter, and keep LaHair coming off the bench. The team is incomplete to be sure, but I’m not really all that sure that this team, as it stands, couldn’t win just as many games as they did last year. At this point, I don’t think they are going to add a whole lot, I think any additions are going to come via trade as they slowly sell off any valuable, movable parts as the season progresses.

  • loyal100more

    try and picture a wrecking ball going threw an apartment building… that what the cubs look like right now

  • loyal100more

    reed johnson 1 yr 1.5M… good signing in my opinion.

    • justinjabs

      I thought it was 1.15?

  • Spoda17

    Wow, read all the posts, nice comments.

    I am for giving LaHair a shot.  I know I sound lie a broken record, but we are not wining next year, and we will be just as competitive with LaHair as anyone.  Even if we have Fielder, then we lose 8-7 versus 8-3 (not that we are going to lose, but I think you get my point).  So give the old man a shot.

    We need to focus on pitching, I think we have just as good as we need to fill all of the position players within the system, or a stop gap trade away…

  • chode

    yes, i am planting a trade scenario. The Marlins are interested in Matt Garza, and are also having trouble with Hanely Ramirez taking a back seat to Reyes with his move to 3rd. My guess is they will be shopping Ramirez. The cubs should send Stewart, and Garza to Miami for Ramirez and a pitching prospect. Ramirez will play 3rd (which is where he will be playing anyways in 2012) and we have a complete infield. LaHair at first by the way. Brett, what would be the likeliness of this happening?

    • Gcheezpuff

      This makes absolutely no sense, 1st why would Rameriz want to play 3rd for the Cubs when he doesn’t want to play 3rd for Miami and 2nd, Miami doesn’t have a good enough pitching prospect to make this deal worth it. 3rd this proposal doesn’t help the Cubs rebuild nor make the Cubs better in 2012. Sorry man, but huge pass.

    • Brett

      I’d say the chances are quite low. Third base for Hanley is an issue on the Marlins, why wouldn’t that be the case on the Cubs? And, if it’s not a problem, why would they trade him?

      Even excepting that, I’m not sure I see why the Cubs would rather have Ramirez than Garza.

      • hansman1982

        Ramirez has said that he will handle the move to third “professionally”.  That said, I still am not sold on having Ramirez on the Cubs.

      • http://bleachernation ferris

        im not a huge fan of remerez either but if we got him he’d be our s.s. and we’ve castro to 2b wich is where the cubs wanted him before anyway….

  • John

    I would love to get Hanley, but if we trade Garza we need to get more than two players in return and preferably some young pitching.

    • rcleven

      If you really want Hanely why waste Garza. Im sure you could get him for Z.Ozzie would take him in a New York Minute.

      • http://bleachernation ferris

        id like see them trade zambrano and however much money it takes to the royals for minor leaguers clint robinson-1b,and kelvin herrera-rp………ribinson hits a ton and is blocked at both dh and 1b in k.c. plus hes 25yrs old…herrera a closer/set up man for the future.the royals are one of the few teams to show interest in big z and they have a legit chance to compete in the central this yr…..also we wouldnt be giving up prospects to get rizzo…..let robinson and lehair compete in the spring the other would make a solid lh pinch hitter..since it doesnt loook like were in on fielder

  • Warrior

    I thought Hanley is once again reluctant about playing third base, so why would he be welcome to it if he was traded to the Cubs?

  • 2much2say

    Forget 2012, Forget Fielder, Forget getting anything useful from our base players, Forget keeping Garza, Forget to buy tickets to 2012 games

  • chode

    i am just looking at a different way of filling a void at 3rd base! Stewart is not the answer. Whether he likes it or not Ramirez is built like a 3rd baseman and will play 3rd base in 2012. He would rather play 3rd base for an organization that has not slighted him. We would be adding Power without an extended contract, ala Fielder.

    • Jeff

      Good Lord, at least be willing to give Stewart 600 AB”s at third base before you throw the guy off a cliff.

      Some guy named Ortiz didn’t have spectacular numbers before the Red Sox picked him up.

      • BetterNews

        Jeff–I’m gonna have to disagree with you on this one. Everyone is saying Stewart had a bad year because of his wrist injury. That is not the case as he hit .150 ish and had no homers and 8 RBI BEFORE the injury. I don’t think fans realize that, and that makes what Chode said valid.

        • Skinner

          If the Cubs were in the middle of a championship window, then Ian Stewart would be a lousy acquisition I agree. As it stands, with things as they are, Stewart is an acceptable choice at third for a team at the beginning of a total overhaul.

          The Cubs need to put together a young core of players in their prime years to build around so as to create sustainable long term success. And with the state of the farm system being what it is, they are going to have to take a chance on cheap, upside guys like Stewart and hope they hit paydirt until these kids in the lower minors can mature. Hanley Ramirez, with 3 years 46MM left on his contract and a bat that appears to be in (alarming) regression already, would be a very bad deal for a Cubs team unlikely to seriously contend until said contract is up and he’s over 30 years old. The Cubs are pursuing young, controllable talent with Garza as prime bait and that’s the only sort of players they should consider trading him for.

          • BetterNews

            Skinner–You have too, at the very least, put a team out there that is going to draw fans. I don’t think fans are going to come out in droves to see Castro(while very good) playing with a AAA baseball team. That is the bottom line. I will not pay these ticket prices to see that. That does not mean I am not a fan(I’m sure people are gonna start that bs immediately), it simply means, I, like so many others, will not pay! I’ll watch when I can and thats about it. And bitch here!

            • Skinner

              A fair point (I have zero plans to attend Wrigley at the present moment either, and for the same reasons), but I ultimately disagree that Theo should make foolish moves simply to put a few more asses in the seats in the short term. I am not one who believes that, say, Prince Fielder alone will bring in a rush of ticket sales if the team is not going to be substantially better by his presence (a couple of wins better but that’s about it). Neither would a risky trade for Hanley Ramirez. Neither a risky trade for Ramirez AND signing Fielder. This is going to be a bad team regardless in 2012, and probably not much better in 2013. Building the right way means some lean times coming up here, but I do have faith that it will be worth it in the long run.

              In the meantime, yes, it would behoove Ricketts to lower ticket prices.

          • Kyle

            I like the idea of finding a cheap, buy-low 3b candidate. I just don’t care much for Stewart’s “upside.”

            • Skinner

              I don’t much care for Stewart either and I will be surprised if he works out. But there aren’t that many buy low high upside 3B in their mid-twenties for the Cubs to get with what they’ve got to trade. If nothing else Stewart buys Josh Vitters a little more time and gives Theo a chance to see what he’s got there.

        • http://bleachernation ferris

          stewarts numbers play out to 28 hr in 500 id like to see what hes got we didnt give up much for him it was an even trade ,we also have vitters from the right side maybe a platoon is in order or maybe one of them just win it out right…ramerez wasnt worth the 16m and this allows us to move other ppl and pay off some of the bad contracts,this team will win more games then last season but realistically not be in the playoffs but hendry had us hamstrung and theres nothing we can do but try to move forward with younger players..maybe theres a diamond or two in the rough.

          • BetterNews

            What? 28 homers at 500 AB. Where did that come from? He’s never hit 28.

  • Cheryl

    It seems like moves are at a standstill. When will we see more changes? Two weeks? Three weeks? Does anybody have an idea what will happen next? If the reports out of Washington are to be believed, it looks as if Fielder may go there. I doubt he will be a cub. As for second base, we still don’t know. We may have to wait until spring to find out what the new cubs look like.

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    garza to yankees……aj burnet-sp,minor leaguers,gary sanchez-c,dellin betences-p,adam warren-p

    this gives us a starter back and the yankees would stay under the tax threshold by getting rid of burnetts contract.this along with my ealier trade suggestion w/kc and our farm is vastly improved,and burnett would be a solid 3rd or 4th starter

    this isnt to much for garza the yanks still keep their top two prospects.fft

  • 2much2say

    Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. The CBA is limiting internal Growth and the FA’s are way too costly. No one wants the Cubs refuse. Theo has his hands tied. The big dump is coming but at what cost?

  • 2much2say

    The Cubs are piling up short term deals on marginal players in an effort to field a major league team dotted with rookies through the course of the season.Every teams backup will be as good the the team the Cubs field. In fact you could field a better team with just the outstanding FA’s

  • die hard

    Have the Cubs considered flip flopping Barney and Castro? Barney would give a more steady presence at SS and his BA would be acceptable if position’s fielding percentage improves. Castro at 2B would take advantage of his bigger size and range which would help back up 1B on popups and be better up the middle than Barney.

    • Brett

      No serious consideration, no, even though it does make some sense. The Cubs want to give Castro a chance to become an above-average defensive shortstop, which he does have the potential to be.