HOUSTON - AUGUST 07: Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a two run home run to left field in the first inning off pitcher Bud Norris of the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on August 7, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
In case you didn't listen to Texas Rangers' team president Nolan Ryan's comments about the mystery surrounding Prince Fielder's actual asking price or didn't read about the Hall of Fame pitcher's comments in the Washington Times, Washington Post or at ESPNDallas.com, here's what Mr. Ryan had to say yesterday in an interview with Galloway and Company on 103.3 FM ESPN Radio in Dallas about the game Scott Boras and his 27-year-old client are playing while trying to find the slugger a new home. Asked just how big a contract the first baseman and his agent were looking for, Ryan said it wasn't clear...
Nolan Ryan: "Well, you know, that's hard to say, because they have never made a proposal to us, what I would call a firm proposal. They talk in generalities and numbers and other people's contracts and so you can speculate what it is, but until they sit down and say, 'Look this is what it's going to take,' and, you know, one time they're talking eight years, one time they're talking ten years, one time they're talking a contract bigger than Ryan Howard's with Philadelphia (5-years/$135). So, you look at those numbers and you say, well, you know, they want a bigger contract than that, you're talking up in the $200 million-range."
"You look at it and you try to find ways, creative ways, that might give them a comfort level that they might be willing to come here," the Rangers' president said, "and if they had a clause where they could get out of the contract at some point in time if they felt like that's what they wanted to do, and so until you sit down and really start working on those things [you don't] really know what you're talking about and what kind of creativity could be developed."
MLB.com's Bill Ladson wrote last week in an article entitled, "Nationals still in running to land free-agent Fielder", that an, "... industry source believes that the Nationals want to give Fielder a six- or seven-year deal," but won't go to ten, so there's likely no eight or nine-year offers out there either if the left-handed hitting power bat hasn't yet accepted a deal, right? Or maybe the seven-year veteran who's gone to the postseason in two of the last four seasons doesn't want to go somewhere the team can't contend immediately? If the Nats, rumored to be the front runners, have the best offer on the table and Fielder hasn't yet taken it, does that suggest he doesn't really want to play in D.C as some suggested last week? Not necessarily.
• [cue FLASHBACK SOUND EFFECT]
Before the Nats signed their last big middle-of-the-order bat, the speculation was that they were one of the likely destinations for then-29-year-old free agent OF/1B Adam Dunn. The powerful left-handed slugger was looking for a multi-year deal but couldn't find one, finally settling for a 2-year/$20M dollar deal from the Nats, but not until February 11th, long after he'd expected to find a home. Right before Dunn signed in D.C., ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, in an article entitled, ""Many ways for Series to become Super", wrote that Dunn and his agent were waiting to see if the Los Angeles Dodgers were interested, and though the Nationals remained, "... Dunn's most aggressive suitor," according to his sources, Mr. Stark wrote that the source said, "'If he (Dunn) wanted to be in Washington, he'd already be there.'"
Twelve days later Dunn was a Washington National. "'The opportunities [as a free agent] weren't exactly what I wanted them to be," Dunn told MLB.com's Bill Ladson at the time in an article entitled, "Nats sign Dunn to two-year, $20M deal", confirming in a way ESPN's Mr. Stark's report that the slugger was exploring all possible options before taking the one that offered him what he really wanted, a chance to remain in the National League and avoid becoming a part-time DH, plus, Dunn told MLB.com's Mr. Ladson, "'I get a chance and hopefully turn the program around.'"
If the Texas Rangers, thought to be the last viable option for a long-term deal, won't meet Boras and Fielder's demands, will the big first baseman settle for the best deal on the table? Are the Nationals at 6-7 years and however many dollars they're willing to give the best available option? MLB.com's Bill Ladson's sources had the Marlins, Rangers and Nats as three teams still involved in the bidding. After CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman mentioned the Baltimore Orioles as a possible Fielder suitor in an MLB Network appearance last week, MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko (@MASNRoch) wrote on Twitter today that O's were at least entertaining the idea of pursuing Fielder, at least according to GM Dan Duquette. Some in LA hope the Dodgers might still get involved...
Are Fielder and Boras just waiting until every possibility is exhausted? Once they've explored all of their options will the Washington Nationals have the best offer on the table? Will Prince Fielder follow in Adam Dunn's footsteps and become the next new Hondo-esque hero of the nation's capital's baseball fans, or will he sign with Texas giving D.C. baseball fans who want a big middle-of-the-order bat another reason to hate the Rangers? FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi (@JonMorosi) tweeted last week that "Sources say Rangers unlikely to outbid #Nationals for Prince Fielder," but he noted that, "... as I wrote earlier this week, Texas has surprised us before." The Nats and D.C. GM Mike Rizzo have surprised folks before too...