Nationals pursue Prince Fielder for first base

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While the Nationals have long maintained that Adam LaRoche would reclaim the first-base job in 2012, they’ve always been looked at as potential bidders for Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder anyway. From Ken Rosenthal comes word that the Nationals have indeed engaged in talks with Fielder, but that those talks hit a roadblock today.

Fielder, coming off a third-place finish in the NL MVP balloting, is believed to be looking for something like $200 million over eight years on the open market. It’s a price the Nationals could conceivably pay for an established franchise player to go along with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper as the faces of the team’s future. Rosenthal, though, suggests that the Nationals may soon move on to Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes instead.

Cespedes, whose price tag figures to eclipse $50 million, would be an even bigger gamble for the Nationals than for other teams, because the Nats would need him to stay in center and play in between Harper and Jayson Werth in their 2013 outfield. Many suitors view Cespedes as a better option in right field.

Fielder appears to have only a limited number of suitors at the moment, so the Nationals may be better off lingering in the weeds and seeing if his price tag tumbles a bit. It’d be one thing to pay the portly slugger $25 million per year; it’s going to seven or eight years on such a deal that would make it terribly risky.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

Justin Verlander
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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is still locked up, thanks to a team option that will almost certainly be exercised, through 2020, and Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.