UPDATE: Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Mariners plan to meet with free agent first baseman Prince Fielder tonight.
6:45 p.m. EST update: Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik characterized Bowden’s report as “misleading,” MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports. But then Zduriencik admitted that he’d “prefer to be low key on any discussion,” suggesting that he wouldn’t be admitting anything even if something were brewing.
4:05 p.m. EST update: ESPN’s Jim Bowden states that the Mariners are now the frontrunners for Fielder, though he offers nothing to back it up (he rarely does).
While Albert Pujols may be poised to get a 10-year contract from the Marlins, the Prince Fielder proposals are proving to be on the shorter side.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden that he won’t go past five years for Fielder, making his bid a long shot.
The Cubs are also interested in a shorter deal. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal tweets that Theo Epstein’s club “would pay high dollars in exchange for shorter term.”
The Brewers have yet to completely rule themselves out of the running for Fielder, but a return to Milwaukee is shaping up as very unlikely. Rumored interest from the Orioles and Mariners has yet to produce any known offers, but the market may perk up once Pujols makes his choice.
Fielder, 27, finished third in the NL MVP balloting after hitting .299/.415/.566 with 38 homers and 120 RBI last season. He’s a three-time All-Star who led the NL in homers in 2007 and in RBI in 2009. He’s also played in at least 157 games in each of his six full seasons in the bigs.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.