ARLINGTON (Sports Network) – It’s starting to become clear that Prince Fielder wants no part of playing for the Washington Nationals. If he had he would have been introduced at Nationals Park weeks ago.
The Texas Rangers are his first choice. So much so that he is willing to wait for them, while they try to get Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish to put pen to paper.
Either way it should all come to a head this week, as Darvish has a Wednesday deadline to come to an agreement with the Rangers. Texas, of course, posted a record $51.7 million for him and most expect a deal to be ironed out by the 5 p.m. (ET) deadline.
So then the question becomes can the Rangers fit both players?
In a word. Absolutely. Let’s not forget Texas is now among the big boys in Major League Baseball. They might not be the superpowers that are the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies, but back-to-back American League pennants and more importantly, a 20-year, $1.6-billion television contract with Fox Sports that was agreed to in 2010 puts them awfully close.
If anything they need to keep pace with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who in case you haven’t heard added Albert Pujols and the Rangers’ best pitcher from a year ago, C.J. Wilson, this winter.
Surprisingly, the market hasn’t really come together for a 27-year-old slugger, who hit 38 home runs and drove in 120 runs for the National League Central champion Milwaukee Brewers this past season. Washington has really been the only other team linked to Fielder.
You’d figure he’d take his time here, but we are less than a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting. In fact, no nine-figure deal has ever been agreed to after December.
I think he wants Texas and is just waiting to see how this Darvish thing pans out. Fielder must have some sort of assurance from the Rangers that he is still heavily in their plans for him to wait this out.
Seattle may have been an option, but with its deal for Jesus Montero over the weekend that probably puts them out of the running. The same goes for the Chicago Cubs, who acquired San Diego first baseman Anthony Rizzo last week.
A new team, though, may have entered the fray for Fielder’s services on Tuesday when it was learned that Detroit Tigers’ designated hitter Victor Martinez would be lost for the season with a torn ACL.
The Tigers, though, appear more likely to go the Johnny Damon, Carlos Pena route rather than Fielder. The same can be said about the New York Yankees, who dealt their DH over the weekend to Seattle.
I’ve thought all along that Fielder to Texas was basically a fait accompli.
Do they need him? Of course not. This is a lineup that last year finished first in batting average (.283), second in homers (210) and third in runs scored (855).
But you can always use a bat like Fielder’s especially when your starting rotation is somewhat of a question mark without Wilson. Imagine the big man in the middle of a lineup that already includes Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre, Michael Young and Mike Napoli.
Speaking of Hamilton. He could be the causality in all of this. He signed a two-year extension last year and is eligible to become a free agent at season’s end. Maybe the Rangers are willing to bite the bullet on some added payroll this year, knowing they have no intention of paying the oft-injured Hamilton next year.
We’ve been reminded all too often baseball is a business. You tell me who you’d rather deal out a $100 million deal to, Prince or Hamilton? When healthy Hamilton is probably the better hitter, but he is always nicked up. Plus who knows what the years of drug abuse did to his body.
Say what you want about Fielder, but he is never hurt. Last year he was the only player in the majors to play in all 162 games and despite his bulky presence, he has averaged 160 games in his six full seasons in the league.
There are ways to make this work. Fielder and his agent Scott Boras know this. Darvish is the one with the deadline. Once that’s settled Fielder will go shortly thereafter and I fully expect him to land in Arlington.
If not then watch his presser in D.C. next week and don’t believe a word he says when he says the Nationals were his first choice all along.