Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hunting a Prince?

As suitors for Prince Fielder are dropping out left and right for various reasons, it's starting to look like the Nationals might be one of the last teams standing by default. The NYY made some major moves to upgrade the rotation yesterday, and the big news that slid under the radar is that they are on a hard budget number that had to have special approval in order to sign Kuroda before they moved salary to pay for him. That takes them out of the mix (not that they were ever REALLY in it) for Fielder completely. The Red Sox have Gonzo, Youkilis and Ortiz at 1B/3B/DH already, so they are probably not in, and they have moves to make on the pitching end they haven't made yet.
CHC is looking to go younger and traded for A. Rizzo this week, without a DH, they don't have a place for Prince either if you follow the logic that you don't trade for a young ML ready player and then not play him. TEX still has to sign Darvish to a monster contract, and I'm not sure that they want to go on a spending spree like the Angels, but they are in the mix a bit.

As for the teams still IN the mix, SEA has long been rumored to be the front runner, but hasn't shown the willingness to get the deal done. Now with trading Pineda for Montero who looks to have to be a 1B/DH, it seems to be sending signals that it's out on Fielder, that is a LOT to give up for a young hitter, if you were about to sign a guy that plays the same position. TOR has been mentioned as being on the fringe of things for months, but there are rumors that they would rather save their money for a run at Canadian Joey Votto in 2 years instead. BAL has been mentioned because of the glaring hole at 1B they have, but most people seriously doubt that the team would pony up that kind of money to anyone since Angelos has become gun-shy. If his price comes down a bit, the O's could get in the mix, but it's a long shot after so many years of doing nothing in Baltimore.

With Spring Training set to start in a month, many people are baffled that Fielder still doesn't have a team, but there are so many issues with Prince that Boras is having a hard time working his usual magic. There just isn't going to be a bidding war for him at the price he's looking for. We could be looking at one of those rare instances where Boras doesn't get what he wants.

That brings us to the Nats. Word is that Morse is heading out to LF regardless of what happens in other places on the roster, with LaRoche at 1B. The hang up is that means LaRoche is dead salary since he can't play another position, and you might already have defensive issues with Werth going to CF this season (if they can't find another option), so you can't experiment with LaRoche in RF in addition to Werth in CF, and Morse in LF. You would have an OF with ZERO natural OF in it, that could be an issue in spacious Nationals Park. If you can get past all that, maybe Fielder makes some sense here. He's the type of player that puts WAS up in the division race for sure. A batting lineup with Harper-Fielder-Werth-Morse-Zimmerman in it isn't too shabby, and with the SP rotation looking very good right now, the Nats on paper could compete with anyone.

There is much to be seen, but I feel like the Nats have one more move in them at some level, and with 31 days to go before ST, it could happen at anytime now.