Washington Nationals Still Involved In Ever-Evolving Prince Fielder Market? Who Knows?

Over a few hours last night, the story of Prince Fielder's meeting with members of the Texas Rangers brass broke and changed until the American League's defending champs were right back where they started. USA Today writer Bob Nightengale broke the news that the 27-year-old, 5'11'', 275lb left-handed power bat was in the Lone Star state, writing on Twitter that "The Texas #Rangers are meeting today with Prince Fielder at Dallas-area hotel."

CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) soon followed up with a report that the visit was part of another tour of interested teams like the one the Milwaukee Brewers' '02 1st Round pick and his agent Scott Boras took earlier this winter. Before this afternoon, everyone had assumed that the Rangers would only get involved in the pursuit of the PF Flyer if their negotiations with 25-year-old Nippon Ham Fighters' right-hander Yu Darvish broke down...

Fort Worth Star-Telegram writer Jeff Wilson wrote Friday night in an article entitled, "Rangers test water by talking to Prince Fielder", that, "A source confirmed the meeting at the Four Seasons Resort in Las Colinas, but no one seemed to definitively know the Rangers' intentions." The same source told the writer that as rumors had it, "Fielder is the Rangers' backup plan if an agreement can't be reached with Darvish." As the story of Fielder's visit evolved, ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett took a "Can the Nationals sign Fielder and extend Ryan Zimmerman?"-esque look at what a deal with Prince would mean for future talks with Rangers' center fielder Josh Hamilton.

Dallas Morning News' writer Evan Grant examined how Texas could afford to sign both Fielder and their outfielder in an article entitled, "Deadlocked slugger Prince Fielder is enticing to Rangers", and the proposed deals Mr. Grant came up with were posted in another article today entitled, "How the Rangers could ink Josh Hamilton and Prince Fielder to long-term deals." The Dallas Morning News' writer suggested an 8-year deal for Fielder with 6-years guaranteed and a player opt-out after four years and a team opt-out after five. You can read the details HERE.

As ESPNDallas.com's Mr. Durrett notes, an eight-year deal structured in a way that allows for flexibility on each end or the sort of deal that ESPN.com's Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) described last night on Twitter, ("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," Mr. Olney wrote) might cause some teams that thought they couldn't afford Scott Boras' asking price to revisit the discussions.

Seattle Times' writer Larry Stone, who broke the Michael Pineda/Jesus Montero, Mariners/Yankees deal last night that wiped "Fielder meets with Texas" off the front page, wrote in an article entitled, "Mariners to acquire catcher Montero for pitcher Pineda", that Seattle's deal with New York came out of nowhere while everyone was wondering if the M's were in on Prince. As Mr. Stone notes, though, "It is not known what the ramifications of this deal will be for Seattle's pursuit of Fielder. But they didn't add any payroll," in the trade so if they had the money beforehand, acquiring Jesus Montero's bat won't necessarily preclude the signing of the free agent slugger.

There was no word out of Washington last night. MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko wrote, in an article entitled, "Fielder not slated to visit Charm City", that Boras and Fielder were not, "... scheduled to meet with Orioles officials. At least not yet." No word on whether or not another trip to the nation's capital is on the itinerary. Fort Worth Star-Telegram writer Jeff Wilson wrote Friday night that, "though the only other suitors are Washington and Seattle with six weeks remaining until spring training, Boras hasn't come off his asking price."

As MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote Friday night, his sources too said, "Fielder's price must come down in order for the [Nationals] to consider acquiring his services." Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore's sources confirmed a second meeting between the Nationals' brass and Boras on Thursday night, so it appears Washington's still in the mix until we're told otherwise...You can't kill the Fielder to the Nats rumors. Don't even try.

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