Prince Fielder is one of the premier sluggers in all of baseball. Over his career, he has averaged 32.9 home runs per season along with 93.7 RBI. He also has a career .282 batting average and .390 career on-base percentage.
He is obviously a highly talented athlete, and he is going to get a huge paycheck by the time this winter is over. The question is of course who will be signing that paycheck.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, there are eight teams that are possible in the running for Fielder’s services. Heyman claims that Washington DC with the Nationals is Fielder’s most likely destination, but I will return to that later. Other teams that are reportedly in the running include the Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers, Florida Marlins, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, and of course the ever popular “mystery club.”
I said that I would return to that point about the Washington Nationals. According to several reports, one of which is from Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, the Washington Nationals are the front-runners in the Prince Fielder race. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports also noted that the Washington Nationals have enough money to be able to afford that type of deal that a player of Fielder’s caliber will definitely earn.
It seems like a pretty open and shut case.
However, the Washington Nationals general manager, Mike Rizzo, seems to be singing a different tune. According to an article from the Washington Times by Amanda Comak, Rizzo has again committed to using Adam LaRoche as the first baseman for Opening Day. He has repeated variations of that statement several times, so that adds a twist to this situation.
Is it more possible that the Washington Nationals are pursuing Prince Fielder as aggressively as Heyman suggests, or is it more possible that Adam LaRoche will start at first base on Opening Day as Rizzo keeps saying?
I personally feel that if a player like Prince Fielder was virtually a lock to play for my team, I would sign be very tempted to sign him regardless of what I had previously said. It definitely isn’t every day that players like Prince Fielder is available and willing to play for your team.
Fielder would most definitely help the lineup output as well. Like I indicated at the beginning of this article, he is incredibly productive. He drives in a lot of runs, and he gets on base himself almost two out of every five times he steps to the plate. Who wouldn’t like to have that in the middle of the lineup?
I guess the Washington Nationals have some kind of ethical dilemma then.
Virtually, it seems as if they are the front-runners for Prince Fielder. Therefore, they could make the more “profitable” and bring in Prince Fielder regardless of what was said previously. Their lineup would be better, and it could help push them closer into contention for the National League East. The goal of every baseball team is usually to be in contention to win the World Series. To stay consistent with that goal, signing Fielder makes a lot of sense.
The other route is obviously to stay true to what has already been said by Rizzo. It is not as if Adam LaRoche is even a bad option. Last year was definitely frustrating, but he has shown the potential throughout his career to hit approximately 20 home runs and drive in up to 100 runs in a season. This is definitely not bad, and I would even say that it is pretty good. Also, it would keep the general message flowing from Washington consistent that he will indeed be the first baseman on Opening Day. It would almost seem dishonest to go back on the assurance that has been given to LaRoche.
There is definitely an interesting story developing here. Will that happen? I obviously don’t know yet. Pay attention because this entire thing of having LaRoche as the Opening Day starter could even be a bluff. Maybe the Nationals are trying to keep attention away from their pursuit even though that hasn’t been working as shown by the news.
Nevertheless, this will be the most important story for the remainder of the offseason. A lot of money is definitely going to change hands, but who will be paying it?