Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that the Brewers are already engaging agent Scott Boras in some preliminary discussions about a long-term contract for Prince Fielder.
Fielder, who turns 26 in May, is under team control for two more seasons. As McCalvy aptly points out, there’s no real precedent for Boras to advise one of his clients against testing the open market, but Fielder doesn’t dismiss the notion at all.
“In the end, it’s my decision. But as my agent, he’s
going to make sure that I have the most information possible about
what’s going to benefit me and my family. That’s what it’s about first.
My family has to be happy, and then I go from there. There’s no urgency right now as far as that.”
These sound like some pretty canned remarks, consistent with a player contemplating free agency, but consider that fellow first basemen Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard and Adrian Gonzalez could also hit the open market after the 2011 season. If all four stay healthy, they’ll attract large contracts from some of the game’s biggest spenders. One or two of them could agree to an extension before hitting free agency, but if they don’t, position scarcity could have a lot to say about where each of them end up. As of now, it figures to be quite a unique offseason.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.