When the possibility of Prince Fielder coming to Washington was mentioned to Michael Morse in a late November interview on MLB Network Radio, the Nats' LF/1B was unable to contain his excitement at the idea of the soon-to-be-former Milwaukee Brewers' slugger joining the movement in the nation's capital even if it meant Morse would be out in left field instead of playing first where he played most of last season during his breakout year.
"Oh my gosh!," the 29-year-old Morse said, "Are you kidding me? I mean, I'll catch. I'll pitch. Whatever it is. If we can get our hands on Prince. That is huge. Especially in our division. And especially with the lineup we have. We have [Ryan] Zimmerman. We have [Jayson] Werth. We have a lot of power righties and to put him in there? He's a monster. He's a game changer at any time of the game." 2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper joked on Twitter that after adding Gio Gonzalez all the Nats needed to do was add the 27-year-old Fielder. Gonzalez too tried to recruit Prince...
This afternoon an anonymous National told CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, as Mr. Heyman wrote on Twitter (@JonHeymanCBS), that Washington was in the mix for the Milwaukee Brewers' '02 1st Round pick. "Spoke to a Washington Nationals player today about Prince," Mr. Heyman wrote, and the player told him, "'We're in the market. We're still shooting for him.'"
In a follow-up article entitled, "Nats player: We are "shooting for" Prince", the CBSSports.com baseball writer acknowledged that quoting an anonymous player might draw some skeptical reactions, writing, "People can scoff at the validity of a player as a source, but this player did not hesitate and sure seemed to know what he was talking about. But who can be sure?"
Mr. Heyman acknowledges the public statements by the Nats' GM Mike Rizzo too, (the general manager told MLB Network Radio host Mike Ferrin that the Nationals had, "... 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,") and notes that though Fielder reportedly traveled to several MLB cities around the country recently, it's unclear if Washington was one of them.
It's not just the anonymous National and Mr. Heyman who are hearing the chatter. ESPN.com's Buster Olney, in ranking the Nationals 9th overall among MLB defenses this morning in an article entitled, "The 10 best infields in Major League Baseball", writes that with talent like Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, Morse, Ian Desmond and prospects like Anthony Rendon the Nats have a lot of talented options however they align them and could have to make room for a big addition since, "Some rival executives strongly believe that Washington will be the eventual landing place for Fielder."
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal too reported yesterday that Fielder's agent Scott Boras, "... indicated that Fielder has met personally with several owners, though he declined to identify those owners or say how many such meetings have taken place." The reason for meeting with owners, the agent explained, was so that both his client and prospective investors could really get to know one another and the owners could see what a difference the first baseman could make on the field, in the clubhouse, at the box office and in terms of tv ratings/revenue.
Rizzo and the Nats, CBSSports.com's Mr. Heyman suggests, could be, "... downplaying their genuine interest in Fielder as a way not to get fans' hopes up," and, "... he wouldn't be the first GM to do that." Maybe the Nationals are being mentioned only because they're one of the teams that could afford the asking price, as Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell wrote yesterday might be the case, or because they've made big offers before (see: Mark Teixeira, Jayson Werth), but in spite of what the Nats keep saying publically, something has baseball writers, rival executives and apparently even one anonymous National convinced that Washington might actually be in the market for Prince Fielder.