When MLB Network Radio hosts Joel Sherman and Seth Everett listened to tape of today's Mike Rizzo interview with Power Alley host Mike Ferrin, their first reaction to what they described as the Washington Nationals' GM's "non-denial denial" (their words) on the Prince Fielder question, was that the general manager had left the door open enough for the possibility of the team signing the 27-year-old free agent first baseman to remain.
"As far as, 'Are we going to dabble our toe in that water?'" Rizzo had said to Mr. Ferrin, referring to the rumors tying the big slugger to the Nats, "Those are decisions that we make early on in the process and 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." It's that "extraordinary" or "out of the ordinary" that the MLB Network Radio hosts who listened back and commented said keeps the door open for the Nats to sign Fielder and say something "extraordinary" happened to allow it...
Maybe something simply ordinary could force the Nationals to sign a first baseman? In an article today entitled, "Nats finalize one-year deal with DeRosa", the Nats' Skipper Davey Johnson (who helped recruit DeRosa), told MLB.com writer Bill Ladson that the addition of the veteran INF/OF made sense for Washington, "With Chris Marrero down and maybe some question marks regarding Adam LaRoche, DeRosa just fits." LaRoche is expected to be 100% ready for Spring Training. There's been no word to suggest otherwise. Oddly, however, FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi wrote the other day (while saying the Nats couldn't be ignored in the Fielder market) that the Nationals were also in the "non-Fielder" market for free agent first basemen.
Could the absence of Chris Marrero, who was expected (by Davey Johnson at least) to be a bench bat and backup first baseman and questions about LaRoche's ability to return and produce right away on a team that's talking like they think they can contend put the team in an "extraordinary" or "out of the ordinary" situation in which they'd have to sign a first baseman? Can Washington go into the 2012 season with DeRosa, who's struggled with injuries recently as the primary backup for LaRoche at first? Is Michael Morse the logical backup at first? If Morse moved to first from left, who's in the left field on Opening Day?
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal listed the Nationals as one of six teams he said, "have been linked" to Fielder this winter in an article today entitled, "Boras taking his time with Fielder deal", on Scott Boras' approach to finding the right deal for his client, which Mr. Boras continues to say includes approaching teams' owners to convince them of what Fielder can do for their respective franchises:
Scott Boras: ". . . (A player like Fielder) gets you the (local) TV contract, he gets you a higher franchise value, your attendance goes up . . . These players pay for themselves. They make you a lot of money. Owners understand that."
The bow-tied FOXSports.com writer goes on to cite Jayson Werth's meeting with the Nationals' owners as an example of how Boras works, writing that, "Free-agent outfielder Jayson Werth’s talks with Nationals owner Ted Lerner last offseason helped persuade him to accept the team’s seven-year, $126 million offer." Mr. Rosenthal doesn't talk specifically about the Nationals and Fielder, but he does quote the slugger's agent saying something that is sure to ring a bell for any Nats fan who's been following the rumors this winter:
Scott Boras: "'Prince is not in any way a normal free agent. Owners will move players off their teams that already occupy positions to get him. Even though they have a player at the position, this is the move to bring in a franchise player.'"
After listing all the logical reasons (and making a good argument for) why the Nats shouldn't pursue Prince Fielder, Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell wrote tonight at the end of an article entitled, "Prince Fielder’s price is not right for Nationals right now", that (much as Fielder's agent argued), "The problem with applying strict logic in valuing stars such as Fielder is that it fails to measure their impact on team psychology, total team revenues and the ability to ride a core of stars deep into October." Mr. Boswell ends his article by advising that the Nats shouldn't sign Fielder unless the price drops significantly, but much like the Nats' GM he doesn't ever seem to rule out the possibility.