As the deadline to submit bids for Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters' right-hander Yu Darvish approached, the Texas Rangers, who'd scouted the 25-year-old extensively, were all-of-a-sudden unsure if they'd even submit a bid, at least according to sources who talked to the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram and FOXSports.com's baseball writer Ken Rosenthal. Texas was widely-considered an interested party in the posting process, but as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Jeff Wilson wrote in a December 13, 2011 article entitled, "Rangers not expected to be among contenders for Japanese ace Yu Darvish", though they were "quite familiar" with Darvish at that point, the Rangers weren't, "... expecting to land him and might not even submit a bid. They are committed to the business model, which doesn't have room for a high-risk, high-dollar acquisition this off-season."
Texas was in the market for a starter FOXSports.com's Mr. Rosenthal wrote in a 12/13/11 article entitled, "Rangers not fishing for Fielder, Darvish", but according to his sources, "... more focused on trading for a starting pitcher than signing free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder or even pursuing Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish." Of course, the Rangers would end up submitting the highest bid for the posting fee ($51.7M) and would then Darvish to a 6-year/$60M deal, finding the starter they were after with a "high-rish, high-dollar acquisition." As the deadline to sign Darvish approached, the Rangers were also singled out as a potential destination for the second-best bat available this winter (arguably second-best), Prince Fielder, who was somehow still on the market more than two months after he'd become a free agent.
If they didn't sign Darvish, Fielder was a backup plan, some suspected, but once they had signed the right-handed pitcher, what were the chances of Texas also adding the big left-handed bat? "It's very unlikely," Rangers' GM Jon Daniels told Fort Worth Star-Telegram writer Jeff Wilson, as quoted on Twitter (@JeffWilson_FWST). "'I don't expect that we'll do anything big the rest of the off-season," the general manager told reporters. It would take a "creative" deal if there was any possibility of Prince landing in Texas Dallas Morning News' baseball writer Evan Grant wrote in an article entitled, "Rangers remain interested in Prince Fielder."
"'I’m intimately aware of our budget and it’s very unlikely,'" MLB.com Rangers beat writer T.R. Sullivan quoted Mr. Daniels stating in an article yesterday entitled simply, "Daniels on Fielder." Team president Nolan Ryan, however, told MLB.com's Mr. Sullivan, "'We'll just have to see where things go the rest of the winter and see what our opportunities are. I'm not sure we can predict anything at this time.'" In an interview with "Ben and Skin" on 103.3 KESN-FM in Dallas/Fort Worth, the Rangers' GM told the show's host, "It comes down to dollars and cents budget, long-term kind of decision," and after signing Darvish, "We’re going to take a step back and look at it, but based on kind of where we are, I think that’s unlikely."
USA Today's Bob Nightengale, who first broke the story of Fielder's recent visit to Texas, wrote last night in an article entitled, "Analysis: Prince Fielder lurking on Texas Rangers' agenda", that in spite of what the Rangers are saying publicly, "The Texas-sized truth is that while the Rangers now have Darvish, they still want Fielder, too," though saying so in public would do them no good in terms of potential negotiations with the hard-hitting soon-to-be-former Brewers' slugger. "The Rangers haven't ruled out signing free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder," the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Mr. Wilson wrote Thursday night in an article entitled, "Prince Fielder not completely off Rangers' radar", citing two "major league sources," but, "... they need agent Scott Boras to yield some from high contract demands and be willing to get creative in structuring a deal."
"All 30 teams have to, on some level, want Prince," Jon Daniels told MLB Network Radio's Jim Bowden and Casey Stern tonight on Inside Pitch, but having signed Darvish, and with 26-year-old Mitch Moreland a comfortable alternative at first, Daniels said, "We're not denying what Prince brings to the table, it's a matter of budget and dollars and cents and financially what we've got, not just this year, but looking forward. We're going to have a record payroll this year as we sit today. We just made a huge investment yesterday and as much as we'd love [Prince], I just think from a budget standpoint and being responsible for the club, at this point it's unlikely."
"Based on our conversation with Jon Daniels @mlbnetworkradio regarding Fielder," MLB Network Radio host and former Nats' GM Jim Bowden (@JimBowdenESPNXM) wrote on Twitter after the interview, "it would be my humble opinion that Nats have to be frontrunner [for Fielder]." Of course, the Nationals have been identified as the front runners or favorites for Fielder before. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote in a 1/2/12 article entitled, "Nationals a favorite for Fielder", that in spite of their protests and public denials the Nationals were viewed as the likely destination for Fielder.
D.C. GM Mike Rizzo responded to the rumors in an article entitled, "Nats GM Mike Rizzo says nothing has changed with regard to Prince Fielder", by Washington Times' writer Amanda Comak, reiterating as he has all winter when Fielder's name's come up in connection with the Nationals, that the Nats are fine going with Adam LaRoche at first or with Michael Morse as a backup plan if LaRoche isn't 100% healthy. As for the constant rumors tying Washington to the 27-year-old free agent first baseman, Rizzo admitted, "Of course he helps the club. He’ll help any other club he’s with also," but for the Nats, "Nothing has changed since we discussed this stuff in the winter meetings," and when it was discussed then the Nationals' position was that the asking price would have to come down significantly for something to be worked out with Fielder and his agent.
As the Nationals' general manager told MLB Network Radio host Mike Ferrin a week before talking to the Washington Times, "... we've 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." Seems no one's actually in in on Fielder. The Rangers are a maybe, if they can figure out something creative. The Nats are interested but only if the asking price drops significantly. Marlins? According to a source who spoke to Florida Sun-Sentinel writer Juan C. Rodriguez it's not likely. Chicago? The Cubs that is? Nope, not according to what their skipper said. Seattle? Seattle? Mystery team? Anyone? I wonder what Washington Nationals' All-Star reliever Tyler Clippard thinks...
"I'm extremely interested in all that stuff," Clippard said when asked about the rumors of Prince Fielder coming to D.C. in an MLB Network Radio interview, "Probably as much as anyone else in the media, in the sports world. I'm constantly on Twitter, and the internet and trying to see what's going on. I'm interested because it's important for our team, but I don't know. I have mixed feelings. I don't really know for 2012 it's kind of a mixed bag, because we do have [Adam LaRoche] over there and I think he's a great player and so it's kind of a tough thing when you have a teammate and you think the organization is leaning towards Prince and you kind of wonder, 'How does Roche-e feel about this?' and is it going to motivate him to do well in 2012 and if he does and we get Prince then we've lost out on [$8 million dollars], and from a business standpoint that's not necessarily a smart move..."
"A lot of it could be rumors," the reliever continued, "A lot of it is obviously probably pretty serious as well, but we'll just have to wait and see." Tyler Clippard doesn't know either...