If it ends — and it looks like it has ended — Prince Fielder’s tenure as a Milwaukee Brewer ended with an 0-for-4 night and a weak grounder to second base.
But that will soon be forgotten. For one thing, he had an overall productive 2011 postseason, getting on base and hitting for power. For another, he leaves behind six seasons — and part of a seventh — in Milwaukee that have been nothing short of spectacular: 230 homers, 656 RBI and a line of .282/.390/.540. He has been a critical part of two Brewers’ playoff teams and stands as one of the more popular men to ever wear the team’s uniform.
But it’s that production and his impending free agency that makes Fielder all but certain to wear a different uniform in 2012. Even with Albert Pujols on the market and the Yankees and Red Sox seemingly out of the bidding for a big first base bat, Fielder’s price tag is likely to approach $200 million. That’s widely accepted to be outside of the realm of the possible for team owner Mark Attanasio. The Brewers are a tremendous business success for a team in as small a market as Milwaukee, but they can’t afford that kind of a deal, especially when they’re already committed to Ryan Braun for $105 million through 2020.
So, barring an uncharacteristic hometown discount for the Scott Boras-represented Fielder, this is the end of the road for him in Wisconsin. I would assume that Brewers fans — a pretty knowledgeable lot — understand that this is business and I’d assume they’ll greet Fielder warmly if and when he returns to Miller Park wearing home grays.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.
Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.
The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.
Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.