Updating the Prince Fielder market: Cubs, Nats, Jays

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Newsday‘s Ken Davidoff has some fresh insight on the eerily silent Prince Fielder sweepstakes.

Fielder “wanted the Cubs” because he has superb career numbers at Wrigley Field, and the two Chicago airports provide easy access (i.e. direct flights) to his Florida home. But, as we’ve addressed already on this blog, the Northsiders are in full rebuilding mode under new president Theo Epstein.

The Nationals had some interest, and might still be lingering, but they’ve turned “a little gun-shy” after dishing out a seven-year, $126 million contract last offseason to overall disappointment Jayson Werth.

Many have suggested that the Blue Jays might be the darkhorse, but they “won’t commit beyond five years.”

In other words, it’s anyone’s guess as to where Fielder will ultimately end up. But it’s now January 2012, and it’s probably closing in on crunch time for super-agent Scott Boras and his big fish client.

Fielder, 27, owns a .929 career OPS and slugged 38 home runs alongside a .299/.415/.566 slash line last year for Milwaukee. He’s thought to be seeking a deal similar to what Albert Pujols got from the Angels.

The Giants might be ready to part ways with Hunter Pence

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Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.

The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.

Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.