It's hard, these days, to find anyone who doesn't think the Washington Nationals and Prince Fielder are destined to agree on a deal. ESPN.com writers Buster Olney and Jim Bowden both wrote articles this morning examining the pros and cons of adding the 27-year-old, 5'11'', 275 lb, slugging first baseman and his .282/.390/.540 career line to the Nationals' lineup. FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, in his latest free agency update, said it's always hard to tell with negotiations involving Scott Boras, "But this much we know, the Washington Nationals are in, just as people in baseball suspected all along that they would be."
The FOXSports.com reporter puts the Mariners and Cubs in the mix as well, though Seattle doesn't have much to offer competitively and Chicago's reportedly not willing to go more than five years, and Mr. Rosenthal wonders, "... if anyone else has the level of interest that we've seen from the Nationals and the Mariners," saying, "... that is the great unknown." Asked for his prediction for how many years and how much money Fielder will eventually get, Rosenthal said, "I would expect 8 x 25, $200 million with opt-outs and all kinds of bells and whistles."
ESPN.com's Jim Bowden, in an article entitled, "Five reasons Nationals need Fielder", offered five reasons why the Nationals should sign Fielder. Bowden points out the opportunity signing the slugger provides for the Nats to become a contender now, solve their run-scoring problems, reward Ted Lerner* with a winner, provide a great clubhouse leader and example for the Nats' young stars and finally add another star and drawing card to a roster that already includes Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg and one day soon will feature Bryce Harper.
-- ed. note - " * = New York Post writer Joel Sherman too wrote that the Nationals' motivation for thinking big the last few years was to provide the Nats' owners with a winner. In an October 14th article entitled, "If Sabathia opts out of contract, Yankees will have competition", Mr. Sherman suggested that the "ill-fated Jayson Werth deal" won't keep Washington from going for it this winter, because, as he put it, "The Nats believe they are on the verge of being a winner and can become a big-market team if they are regular contenders,":
"Plus the same situation that instigated the Werth signing -- an aging owner, Ted Lerner, who wants results now and an ambitious son, Mark, who wants to put his stamp on the team, remain."
Of course, Mr. Sherman was talking about the Nationals possibly pursuing CC Sabathia if he opted out of his contract with the Yankees, though the New York Post writer did note at the time (in October) that, "... there is an expectation that Washington's big money this offseason is targeted toward Prince Fielder."
ESPN.com's Buster Olney weighed the pros and cons of Prince in the nation's capital, in his own article entitled, "Washington's end game for Fielder." In the ESPN.com analyst's opinion, add Fielder to the Nats' lineup and, "This might be the best lineup in the National League, and if the Nationals' rotation "Big Three" -- Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg -- all stay healthy," Mr. Olney writes, "this team could be good enough to play deep into the postseason." In addition, adding Fielder would make the Nats a more desirable destination for future free agents, provide them with a relatively young leader on a young team and boost the interest in the team nationwide.
The cons, as Mr. Olney sees them, enormous long-term deals for Fielder (or any player) often become "major problems" for major league teams toward the end of those deals. The signing, Mr. Olney notes, eliminates the position as an option for Ryan Zimmerman should the Nats want to move him from the hot corner over the length of Fielder's deal, however long it might be. Fielder's defense, "already considered subpar by a lot of scouts," as the ESPN.com writer notes, isn't likely to get better as he gets older, and signing him would mean the Nationals essentially eat the money remaining on Adam LaRoche's deal.
So will the Nationals sign Prince Fielder? Are the rumors true?
Not so fast. Washington Times' writer Amanda Comak talked to the Nats' GM this afternoon for an article entitled, "Nats GM Mike Rizzo says nothing has changed with regard to Prince Fielder", in which the Washington Times' writer quotes the Nationals' general manager saying, "'Our position has not changed since the winter meetings, on Prince Fielder specifically.'" Rizzo reiterates in the article that the Nats are pefectly comfortable at first with Adam LaRoche and Morse as a backup plan, and responds to the recent rumors by saying, "'There are a lot of comments that we’re the front runners and I don’t know where that comes from because we haven’t gone beyond where we were at since the winter meetings.'"
• "Should the Nationals sign Prince Fielder?" - Steve Slowinski at Fangraphs.com asked that question today.
• Washington Post Adam Kilgore writes that it doesn't have to come down to Zim or Prince in an article entitled, "For the Nationals, Prince Fielder or Ryan Zimmerman is only a choice if they make it one."
• MASN's Pete Kerzel wonders, "How much is too much for Prince Fielder?"
• CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, in an article entitled, "Nats, as many as 7 others, shooting for Prince", writes that though the Nationals, "... do appear to be deep in the mix for star free agent slugger Prince Fielder... it may be a bit too early to declare them as 'the' favorite." Mr. Heyman examines what other teams might still be possibilities for Fielder and his agent to explore.
• ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick notes that Fielder isn't the only unsigned Boras client still available this winter in an article entitled, "