Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Brewers beat writer Tom Haudricourt added fuel to the Prince Fielder/Washington Nationals fire when he wrote this morning, in an article entitled, "Nationals a favorite for Fielder", that he'd spoken to, "An MLB official," who, "told me over the weekend that word is spreading in the industry that the Washington Nationals have emerged as a favorite to sign free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder." Mr. Haudricourt's source told the Journal Sentinel reporter that he/she, "... wasn't sure the Nationals would go the eight to 10 years that Boras is seeking for Fielder, however,":
"They might prefer to go shorter on the deal but as long as Boras is able to match or exceed the $25.4 million annual salary that [Albert] Pujols is getting from the Angels, I'm guessing he will be happy."
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Mr. Haudricourt appeared on the MLB Network Radio show "Inside Pitch" this afternoon, talking to hosts Mel Antonen and Jody MacDonald about what he was hearing. "I think they've always been in the mix despite their public denials that they're in on Fielder," Mr. Haudricourt said when asked about the rumors tying Fielder to the Nats, "Many people have thought he'd be a perfect fit there. They're definitely ramping up their intentions for the coming year. The trade for Gio Gonzalez was a big indication that they're going for it."
"They, of course have those two tremendous first round picks Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg coming up now, and lots of other moves" Mr. Haudricourt said, "And [Fielder] just seems to be a perfect fit. They've done a lot of business with Boras clients, Jayson Werth last year, who got a big contract. You know, I had always considered the Cubs, the Rangers and the Mariners just personally my top three to sign him. And I'm not saying one of those teams won't, I'm just saying that I'm now hearing that the Nationals are emerging as the favorite and I've seen other national writers in recent weeks allude to the same type [of] thing."
As he did in his article, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer acknowledged Washington general manager Mike Rizzo's public comments on the matter including the widely-distributed quote last week from the Nats' GM's own MLB Network Radio interview with Mike Ferrin in which Rizzo said 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."
"Well, I would say signing Prince Fielder would be 'out of the ordinary' and 'extraordinary'," Mr. Haudricourt said this afternoon. The 27-year-old slugger is coming off a 36 double, 38 HR, .299/.415/.566, +5.5 fWAR season in Milwaukee. Asked about the fact that the Nats might be "snake-bitten" after giving Werth a 7-year/$126 million dollar deal last winter and getting a 26 double, 20 HR, .232/.330/.389, +2.5 fWAR season from the former Phillies' outfielder who was coming off a 46 double, 27 HR, .296/.388/.532, +5.3 fWAR 2010 campaign, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer who's covered Fielder's career with the Brewers said, "No offense to Jayson Werth, but he ain't Prince Fielder."
"A lot of people were surprised by what Jayson Werth got," the Milwaukee-based baseball writer said, "You know, conversely, I think it makes sense that if [the Nationals] will give Werth $126 million that they would give Prince Fielder a lot more which is what he wants. The interesting thing, would be, no matter who signs him, is if Scott Boras and Prince Fielder get the deal 8-9-or-10-year deal that they've been seeking. I've heard that a lot of the suitors wanted to go shorter-term. And I don't think Scott Boras really wants to do that. If he got a higher AAV than Pujols, he might spin it that it was a better deal and then put Prince back out on the free agent market five years from now or six years from now when he would be the age that [Albert] Pujols was this year getting a 10-year contract."
"I just can't believe it will drag out that much longer," Mr. Haudricourt said predicting a relatively-quick resolution to the drama, "The calender's turned now and most players want to know where they're going to be so. I do know that Prince lives in Florida, in the Orlando area, and I think the east coast would be attractive for him to be near the home too. I'm still not counting out a stealth move by the Cubs, or somebody like that, but I just hear an awful lot that the Nationals are a team to keep an eye on."