With one season remaining on Prince Fielder’s contract the assumption has been that the Brewers will look to trade him this offseason, but general manager Doug Melvin told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that “we’re not shopping Prince” and “I’d like to keep him.”
Of course, regarding a new contract Melvin also said that the Brewers “would like to get something done by the end of the offseason” and “don’t want to negotiate during the year.”
In other words, the “we’re not shopping Prince” thing may not change much at all, because the odds of Fielder and the Brewers agreeing to a new long-term deal before Opening Day seem pretty slim to say the least.
Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, typically pushes his big-name clients to test the open market and it’s unclear if the Brewers are even interested in committing $100 million or more to keep Fielder long term anyway. Much like the Padres with Adrian Gonzalez, the Brewers figure to begin “shopping” Prince Fielder at some point.
The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.
Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.
While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.