BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 20: General Manager Mike Rizzo of the Washington Nationals talks to the media before the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 20, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
While the Washington Nationals wait patiently, publicly saying very little about anything other than how comfortable they are going with Adam LaRoche at first in the second year of his two-year/$16M dollar deal in 2012, a new report emerges every few days tying the Nats' to the top free agent bat left on the market. Are the Nationals interested in Prince Fielder? Did the 27-year-old slugger and his agent, Scott Boras, visit the Baltimore/Washington area on their recent tour of MLB cities? Did they meet with the Lerner family, the owners of the Nationals?
Will Boras steer another client to the nation's capital to join the likes of Jayson Werth, Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Brian Goodwin, Alex Meyer and others in Washington's organization? Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Tom Haudricourt started the chatter today with a report entitled, "Nationals a favorite for Fielder", in which he wrote that an "MLB official" told him, "... 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 was hardly alone in reporting that the buzz around baseball has Washington interested...
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote tonight in an article entitled, "Money no issue as Nats pursue Fielder", that LaRoche's contract isn't going to get in the Nats' way, nor will concerns about the early returns on the first year of Jayson Werth's 7-year/$126 million dollar deal. The Lerners are the wealthiest owners in baseball, and they have increased revenue coming that could easily pay for Fielder. The Nationals want to win now, they've dealt with Boras before, and if they can get the best bat on the market they'll be a contender.
The bow-tied FOXSports.com reporter reaches the conclusion that a shorter deal with a high average annual salary would be best for both the Nationals and Fielder, or they could go with an opt-out clause in a longer deal which would enable him to become a free agent again in three or four years. "The only thing that might stop them is Lerner saying no to Boras," Mr. Rosenthal writes, "and we’ve yet to see that happen, have we?"
Washington Times' writer Amanda Comak wrote this afternoon that team sources told her a shorter deal is the only possibility, "... the party line remains the same: Unless the price -- specifically in years -- drops, the Nationals are unlikely to be that landing spot." NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman wondered if the Nats were really about to become one of the big spenders in baseball and pointed out that the Nationals have consistently said they're not in the market for Fielder and only a select few people actually know the truth of the situation.
Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore examined a potential deal for Fielder in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "On Prince Fielder and the Nationals", and spoke to Scott Boras, who teasingly said his client could be described as, "... a combination of Henry Kissinger and Frank Howard,'" because, "Boras said. 'He’s got brute strength power. He’s a diplomat in the locker room.'"
Fielder's diplomatic skills feature prominently in his agent's pitch apparently. FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal quoted Scott Boras recently in an article entitled, "Boras taking his time with Fielder deal", explaining that the recent tour of potential destinations served the purpose of giving owners a chance to meet Fielder and see what he's all about. "'There is absolute surprise on the owners’ faces when he talks about leadership, his relationship with his teammates, his personal life,'" Boras told the FOXSports.com reporter, "'It’s just not at all what they expected to hear from a statured slugger.'"
Whether or not the Nationals' owners have heard Boras' pitch is still a mystery, with just one reporter, Baltimore Sun writer Dan Connolly, writing that a source told him the Washington/Baltimore area was on Fielder and Boras' itinerary during their recent travels around the country. Since they didn't meet with the Orioles' owner, they must have met with the Nats... right? The Nationals have neither confirmed or denied the reports, and why should they? If Fielder falls to them by, default, due to lack of interest elsewhere, on a deal they're all comfortable with, or if they've been quietly, aggressively pursuing him all along, they have first base covered by Adam LaRoche and even if he's not 100%, Michael Morse. They have options. Do Fielder and Boras?