There’s “a 99 percent chance” that the Nationals won’t sign Prince Fielder? Really?

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Poor Prince Fielder. Looks like he’s going to have to go to the unemployment office soon. Maybe look for a job at a Barnes and Noble or something. Because apparently no one wants to sign him.  Here’s Bill Ladson of MLB.com:

There is a “99 percent” chance that the Nationals will not sign free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder, according to a baseball source … The source indicated that Fielder’s price must come down in order for the team to think about acquiring his services. The Nats are not willing to give Fielder anything close to the 10-year, $240 million contract the Angels gave first baseman Albert Pujols.

That first sentence is sexy, but the second sentence suggests that this is all posturing. It means that there is far greater than a 1% chance that Fielder will sign with the Nats.  It merely requires some more negotiating.  For that “99 percent” stuff to have any teeth it would have to be an “under any circumstances” kind of thing.

He’ll sign someplace. Maybe even with the Nats.  All we’re seeing is an expensive guy facing a tough market.  Expect a lot more of this kind of public negotiation as time goes on.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.