MLB execs think Dodgers will be “in play” for Prince Fielder

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This is more speculation than rumor, but it’s worth passing along anyway given the subject matter.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post says a “surprising number” of team executives have told him that they think the Dodgers will “ulimtately be in play” for free agent first baseman Prince Fielder.

That might seem impossible given the Dodgers’ in-flux ownership situation, but keep in mind that they were able to sign outfielder Matt Kemp to a club-record eight-year, $160 million contract extension earlier this winter and that bids for the franchise are expected to surpass $1.5 billion once current owner Frank McCourt finally goes to market. Whoever ends up buying team will surely have deep pockets, and will likely be able to afford whatever Fielder and his agent Scott Boras end up commanding.

Heck, adding Fielder could even help McCourt’s bottom line if it improves the club’s perceived value.

The 27-year-old slugger batted .299/.415/.566 with 38 home runs and 120 RBI in 692 plate appearances last season for the National League Central champion Brewers. He owns a spectacular .929 career OPS.

If the Dodgers get serious about landing Fielder, they’ll likely begin shopping James Loney simultaneously.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.