Washington may not have been Prince Fielder’s first choice, but Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Nationals “have emerged as the favorite” to sign the free agent first baseman.
Last month general manager Mike Rizzo downplayed Washington’s interest in Fielder, saying that Adam LaRoche was the team’s starting first baseman, but last offseason the Nationals signed a Scott Boras client, Jayson Werth, to a $126 million contract and Boras also represents Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.
Haudricourt doesn’t offer any details about dollar figures or contract length, but there’s been lots of previous speculation that Fielder will have to settle for a shorter-term deal than Boras is seeking.
LaRoche is owed $8 million this season with a $10 million option or $1 million buyout for 2013, but missed all but 43 games last year with a shoulder injury that required surgery.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.