WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 15: Adam LaRoche #25 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with teammates after scoring in the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park on April 15, 2011 in Washington, DC. All players, coaches and umpires are wearing #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Writing about the market for 27-year-old first baseman Prince Fielder on Sunday, FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi, in an article entitled, "Offseason twists to continue into 2012", predicted that if the soon-to-be-former Brewers' slugger, "... remains unsigned after a few more weeks, prepare for the rumblings that he might have no choice but to take a short-term, huge-dollar deal." Mr. Morosi listed the Mariners, Cubs and Blue Jays as teams with interest and added that you couldn't rule out the Rangers or Nationals or the fact that as in most Boras' negotiations, "...there might be more suitors than we know."
Less than 24 hours later, St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Derrick Goold examined the market and the marketing of the seven-year veteran who finished the 2011 season with a .299/.415/.566 slash 36 doubles and 38 HR's in 162 games and 692 at bats, and concluded that at Fielder's relatively young age (compared to Albert Pujols at 32-years-old) another possibility existed if he and his agent couldn't find the sort of long-term deal Pujols signed and they've been rumored to be after this winter. "His age creates an interesting detour that this market could take for Fielder," Mr. Goold wrote, "the shorter, higher-priced deal. Fielder could take a five-year deal with a higher average value than Pujols' $25.4 million, still set a record and reach free agency again at 32, Pujols' age next season."
"That way," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer noted, "the once-in-a-decade player that Boras describes would be available to the highest bidder twice in the decade."
Scott Boras isn't buying it.
In an article by ESPNChicago's Bruce Levine on Tuesday, Fielder's agent "shot down" the idea that his client would accept a 3-year/$26M dollar deal. "'Not only is that inaccurate and delusional,'" Boras told ESPNChicago's Mr. Levine, "'but it seems that some people have gotten into their New Year's Eve stash just a little bit early this year.'" The ESPNChicago reporter says that there are at least six teams involved in the bidding for Fielder's services, and he notes that Boras had previously told him that the, "... bidding would start at seven years for Fielder."
As for how the rumors of the agent and Fielder considering a short-term deal got started, Boras told the ESPNChicago writer, "'It appears some baseball people are just bored,' Boras said. 'That's when you hear ideas like that floated.'"
Are the Washington Nationals, who were mentioned as potential suitors and have been linked to Fielder all winter in a variety of reports, actually interested in pursuing the big first baseman whether it's a long-or-short-term deal? D.C. GM Mike Rizzo told reporters last Friday that Adam LaRoche (who has one year left on his 2-year/$16M dollar contract w/ Washington) would be the Nationals first baseman in 2012, but the general manager has said as much before and the rumors have persisted. The GM was asked about those rumors again this morning during an interview with MLB Network Radio host Mike Ferrin:
Mike Rizzo: "Adam LaRoche is under contract for us. We're paying him a lot of money to play first base for us next year. We feel that he's going to have a bounce-back season. We just want him to have his career norms, .265 [AVG], 25 [HR's], 85-100 RBI's and play great defense. We feel that his shoulder is rehabbed. He's 100% and talking to him just recently, he feels great and he's ready to contribute [for] us in 2012. As far as, 'Are we going to dabble our toe in that water [Fielder],' those are decisions that we make early on in the process and we've more or less decided that Adam [LaRoche] is going to be our first baseman, unless something extraordinary, out of the ordinary happened that's how we're going to go to Spring Training."
Somehow, I imagine that last line will keep the rumor mill going until Prince Fielder and Scott Boras find the deal they're after.