Wire Taps: Who's The Frontrunner Now?: Washington Nationals Last Week, Where's Prince Fielder Rumored To Be Going Now?

The rumors last week that the Washington Nationals were the frontrunners for Prince Fielder? Seattle Times' Mariners beat writer Geoff Baker told King 5 Sports' host Paul Silvi he believes those whispers were likely coming from the 27-year-old free agent first baseman's agent, Scott Boras. Mr. Baker's reasoning? "We started hearing a little buzz just under a week ago," Mr. Baker said, "about how the Washington Nationals are very close to signing Prince Fielder. Now, a lot of that stuff was coming out of leaks. Where's it coming from? I would have to say probably coming from Scott Boras, the agent for Prince Fielder. Now, if you're the agent for Prince Fielder, you're not going to leak stuff about the team that you think is really going to sign Fielder, you're going to leak stuff about the team that might be in second place, because that way you scare the leading contender into actually offering up more money."

The Seattle Times' writer says he's "pretty sure" the Mariners are serious about Fielder, because if they aren't, "They've let it go on way too far, because they're going to be opening Spring Training for pitchers and catchers in about five weeks from now and they don't really have a Plan B that we've seen so far. I'm sure they have it somewhere in their back pocket, but it looks like they're all in on Fielder right now."

D.C. GM Mike Rizzo's backup plan is Michael Morse. The Nats' general manager told Washington Times writer Amanda Comak last week that Adam LaRoche is still Plan A and his comments about not having changed their stance since the Winter Meetings could lend some credence to the Seattle Times' writer's speculation. MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in reporting that, "...ownership recently visited with Fielder's agent, Scott Boras, in the nation's capital," last week in an article entitled, "Nats meet with Boras, in running to sign Prince", quoted a second source who said they believed, "Boras is using [the Nats] to drive up the price with interested teams."

The Seattle Times' Mr. Baker said he thought the Nationals and Mariners were alone in the race, but there's a lot of speculation about the Texas Rangers remaining a possibility. The Yu Darvish negotiations and the possibility of the 25-year-old Japanese right-hander not signing with Texas means the Rangers, "... still have one eye on Prince," as CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) wrote last week, "but their No. 1 goal is to sign Darvish. if they get Yu, chance for Fielder lessens."

Chicago Tribune writer Phil Rogers too, in an article entitled, "MLB whispers: Mets sale could follow Dodger", wrote this weekend that the Rangers are, "... studying a late run at Prince Fielder as a contingency if it deems Darvish's demands too high." Dallas Morning News' writer Evan Grant (judging by the title of his article, it's subscriber only) said much the same, wondering if the fact that Fielder remained on the market would convince Texas to get involved as he wrote in an article entitled, "Deadlocked slugger Prince Fielder is enticing to Rangers."

"Where is there a team with local media rights that Fielder could impact?" MLB.com's Peter Gammons asked this weekend in an article entitled, "Big markets remain silent during strange winter." The Yankees and Red Sox aren't in the mix for Fielder, the Angels already did their spending, the Mets and Dodgers can't get involved and the Cubs aren't expected to go for Fielder. In order for Boras and Fielder to find the deal they want, Mr. Gammons writes:

"Boras needs the Dodgers to have been sold last week, the Rangers to start spending its future television revenues or Nationals owner Ted Lerner to say 'I have seen the future and it is Prince, Strasburg and Harper' and not worry about life in Washington without Ryan Zimmerman after 2013."

Like Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore wrote last week, it doesn't have to be a Fielder or Zim decision, though signing the 27-year-old slugger and extending the Nats' first 1st Round pick, "... would require a fundamental change in how the team’s ownership operates." Will the Nationals' owners take the risk that Fielder would make the team a contender, draw more people to Nats Park and have them tuning into the games on MASN? Can the Nats count on increased tv revenue from the reset of their deal? (Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell says their not likely to spend what they don't yet have.) Of course, Washington Examiner writer Jim Williams quoted Harold Reynolds saying he thought Prince would end up in D.C. and Jim Bowden and Prince Fielder's father, in two separate interviews, both said last week that the Nationals were the likely destination for the 5'11, 275 lb pound high-OBP, HR-hitting first baseman, so it's all fwiw until Fielder signs...

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