PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 04: Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers bites his nail while sitting in the dugout in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game Three of the National League Division Series at Chase Field on October 4, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
USA Today baseball writer Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) just sent the following tweet out into the world, pressing pause on all the talk about which team is the frontrunner for Prince Fielder until there's a follow-up report: "Breaking: The Texas #Rangers are meeting today with Prince Fielder at Dallas-area hotel. Stay tuned..." In the article that followed his tweet entitled, "Prince Fielder meets Friday with Texas Rangers about deal", USA Today's Mr. Nightengale reported that Fielder and Rangers' GM Jon Daniels were spotted together in a Dallas-area hotel's lobby.
CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) wrote, in response to Mr. Nightengale's report, that Fielder and Boras were embarking on a second tour of interested MLB teams, "... hes going to travel to see several teams the next few days," so, as Mr. Heyman wrote in another tweet, "Prince in Texas today (as @BNightengale said). But dont read [too] much into it. Even if they [are] a 'finalist,' they are [one] of many."
The prevailing wisdom in recent days, had the Rangers on the periphery of the Fielder chatter as they waited to see how the discussions with Yu Darvish worked out...
Reports yesterday out of Texas quoting Rangers president Nolan Ryan said that the team was optimistic about the chances of agreeing on a deal with Darvish. ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett quoted the Hall of Fame pitcher saying, "'My expectation is that we'll get something done.'" Will the Rangers then try to match their AL West rivals in Anaheim by adding Fielder like the Angels added C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols? The Rangers signed Joe Nathan? Will the Angels have to sign a closer?
Before Mr. Nightengale's report, FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi, in an article entitled, " Rough offseason — so far — for Boras", was speculating that if super agent Scott Boras wants to, "... remain the undisputed Hot Stove heavyweight champion, his next move needs to get a huge payday for Fielder," which might be difficult since the "right" teams weren't in the market for the 27-year-old, 5'11'', 275 lb slugging first baseman. "The Washington Nationals are showing interest, and many in the industry believe Fielder will sign there," Mr. Morosi wrote but, "After that, the list consists of one 'maybe' after another."
The Rangers, "...continue to downplay their chances of signing both Darvish and Fielder," Mr. Morosi noted, the Blue Jays won't go long-term, the O's and M's are still building and not ready to contend. There didn't seem to be too many options out there until this afternoon's report made everyone wonder if the Rangers might be willing to spend BIG this winter. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark wrote today in his "Rumblings and Grumblings" column that though, "The Nationals continue to downplay their interest in Prince Fielder... one executive who speaks regularly with the Nationals brass is so sure that Washington will be Fielder's eventual destination," that he wakes up each day expecting to read about a deal that brings Prince to D.C.
The executive who spoke to ESPN.com's Mr. Stark told him, "... the Nationals would envision a deal of no more than six years. And even then, they would want some sort of protection," like an opt out or the ability to trade the slugger which is similar to the sort of deal Mr. Stark's colleague ESPN.com's Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) just tweeted might eventually land Fielder:
"@Buster_ESPN: One exec today believes WAS, TEX, CHC may ultimately get this Fielder contract structure: 6 years, opt-out after 3 years, 22-24m a year."
SI.com's Tom Verducci too pointed to the Nationals as a likely destination for Fielder this morning in a section of his Three Strikes column subtitled, "A Prince in Washington?", in which he cited the expected increase in revenue from the Nationals tv deal, Scott Boras' relationship with the Nats owners and their need to forge an identity in the nation's capital as the reasons he thinks Fielder will end up in Washington. Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell, in an article entitled, "Prince Fielder deal could cement Nationals-Scott Boras marriage, for better or worse", suggested this morning that if the Nats added the free agent first baseman, with all the players represented by one agent, they might have to change their name to the "Washington Borases."
The Nationals, of course, have stated all along that they're perfectly comfortable going into the season with Adam LaRoche at first and Michael Morse backing up if necessary, but at least one source told Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore earlier this week that the Nats had been quietly, aggressively pursuing Fielder all along. Now we just sit and wait to see if the last meeting between Fielder, Boras and the Lerners was part of the current tour, or if Fieder's going to be back in the nation's capital again soon for a third sitdown...