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.
Pitcher David Phelps has a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season, the Mariners announced on Wednesday. Phelps was making brief one-inning stints in the Cactus League as he worked his way back from a procedure to remove a bone spur from his elbow last September. He said he felt the ligament tear on his final pitch against the Angels in his March 17 appearance.
Phelps, 31, was expected to set up for closer Edwin Diaz. The right-hander, between the Marlins and Mariners last season, posted a 3.40 ERA with a 62/26 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. He and the Mariners avoided arbitration in January, agreeing on a $5.55 million salary for the 2018 campaign. Phelps will become eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.
As the Mariners noted in their statement, the expected recovery period for Tommy John surgery is 12-15 months, so this very likely cuts into Phelps’ 2019 season as well.