Washington Nationals Remain "Favorites" For Prince Fielder According To Reports.

They have Adam LaRoche at first. They have Michael Morse if LaRoche isn't 100% healthy and ready to return. They gave Jayson Werth a long-term deal last winter and the first year was disappointing. They might have to give Ryan Zimmerman a long-term deal. And what if the Gold Glove-winning third baseman has to move across the diamond late in his career? Where will Zim go if the Washington Nationals have a big slugging first baseman locked up for the foreseeable future? And isn't Prince Fielder better off with an American League team so he can eventually stick to DH'ing late in his career? Is spite of all the questions and doubts, and acknowledging that there's certainly a possibility and a precedent for teams entering into the mix late in the game, several sources are reporting this afternoon that the Nats are [still] the front runners to add the 27-year-old, 5'11'', 275 lb, HR-hitting power bat...

Fielder, as FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wrote this morning in an article entitled, "If Nats want Fielder, now may be perfect", fits nicely into Washington's lineup, and provides the, "... left-handed presence the Nationals need between the right-handed Morse, 29, and Zimmerman, 27." Though, "... the Nats would prefer to boost their payroll in accordance with revenue; their average of 24,877 last season ranked only 20th in the majors," Mr. Rosenthal writes, the D.C. area, "... as a market, doesn’t work like that. Washington is a front-running town, drawn to stars like Fielder." If you sign him, they will come to Nationals Park? If the Nats can get him on a six-year deal it makes sense to the FOXSports.com reporter.

CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported in an article entitled, "Prince field 4 or 5 teams; Nats, O's, Rangers in", that the field of Fielder suitors had been narrowed to four or five teams with the Rangers, Nationals and Orioles believed to be involved, and the possibility of a "mystery team" entering the bidding a distinct possibility. On Twitter (@JonHeymanCBS), the national baseball writer has since written that, "of final Prince teams, Rangers are longest shot. Had great meeting. But length issue for [Texas]. Need isnt as great for them." As far as Mr. Heyman's hearing, "Fielder [is] expected to get AT LEAST 7 yr contract, and perhaps 8."

From what USA Today's Bob Nightengale's sources are telling him, however, that the Nationals' main challenger for most of the rumor-filled process of silenty [aggressively] pursuing Prince Fielder, the Texas Rangers, "... believe they are out out of the bidding for free-agent slugger Prince Fielder." In an article this afternoon entitled, "Texas likely out of Prince Fielder free-agent derby", Mr. Nightengale writes that, "The Rangers' likely elimination would seem to make the Washington Nationals front-runners for Fielder's services." Mr. Nightengale then goes on to add that, "A person familiar with the negotiations, but not authorized to discuss publicly, said that talks were accelerating and could conclude today."

"The #Nationals remain favorites for Prince, but no decision has been made," Mr. Nightengale (@BNightengale) later added on the Twitter machine. Contributing to the idea that a mystery team is poised to enter the fray, ESPN.com's Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) wrote on the Twitter that he'd heard, "Interesting SPECULATION from a club VP: If Fielder takes 1-yr deal, DET would be great fit. Could use insurance $ from Victor to sign him." While noting that it was pure speculation, the ESPN.com baseball writer once again brought up the idea that, "A big 1-yr. deal for Prince allows him to hit market next fall, when LAD, NYM might be in better position to bid." Scott Boras, of course, dismissed this thinking earlier this winter when it came up before.

However this plays out, it sounds like the long, long, tedious, rumor-filled, speculation-driven, drawn-out, laborious process of finding a new home for the soon-to-be-former-Milwaukee Brewer might actually be coming to an end...Of course, I may have just jinxed everyone into another week or two of speculation.

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