To put it lightly, it’s been an uneventful offseason for former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman and current superstar free agent Prince Fielder.
When the bulky veggie-eating first baseman first hit the free-agent market a few months ago, many surmised that he would jockey with Albert Pujols to be this offseason’s top player available in free agency, and even with a stubborn agent named Scott Boras, Fielder would ultimately attain his asking price of nearly 10 years at $250 million.
For Pujols, things went exactly as planned.
The deal was exactly what Pujols was looking for through free agency: A long-term deal that would make him one of the highest paid players in MLB history.
Needless to say, things haven’t gone exactly as planned for Fielder. Now mid-January, the possibility that a team might come forth and offer what he and his agent are looking for seems, well, unlikely at best.
The Mariners have always been considered a favorite, but as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted earlier this week, they may only have roughly $3-4 million left to spend this winter—so signing Fielder seems just about out of the question at this point.
With hardly any practical interest from teams, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Fielder won’t be getting his desired 10-year deal. Or a five-year deal, for that matter. As absurd as it might sound, his best option at this point may actually be re-signing with his former club.
Yes, the Brewers currently have a considerable amount of money invested in starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, as well as set-up man Francisco Rodriguez, not to mention Ryan Braun. But with each passing day, the prospect of Fielder returning to Milwaukee on a one-year deal begins to make a whole lot more sense.
Just think about it.
With such a bleak, uninterested market this winter, it may be Fielder’s best option to re-sign with the Brewers—which are still very much World Series contenders—and re-enter the free-agent market next winter, where he would become undoubtedly the most sought-after talent available.
Sure, GM Doug Melvin has affirmed since the signing of Aramis Ramirez last month that the Brewers are likely moving forward without their preeminent slugger of the past half-decade. However, take what general managers say with a grain of salt—the truth of the matter is that they are largely bluffing.
If and when February rolls around and Fielder still has yet to find a new home, it’s hard to imagine owner Mark Attanasio not opening up his checkbook and raising payroll for at least one more season. Milwaukee’s championship window is closing—it might officially be closed after this season—and Attanasio is fully aware of that fact.
We’ve seen it time and time again—a team that nobody expected comes out of nowhere to sign a big-name free agent. The Angels did it with Pujols; who’s to say the Brewers won’t do it with Fielder?