The Milwaukee Brewers have been dreading the day they would have to part with All-Star first baseman Prince Fielder. That day may be rapidly approaching now that the Brewers are officially listening to offers for their franchise player.
Fielder, a two-time All-Star who is hitting .265 with 20 home runs and 39 RBI, will be one of the most sought after players on the free agent market when his contract expires in 2011. It appears, however, the Brewers are going at least try to head that off at the pass and deal Fielder before the end of the month.
Right now, there aren't many suitors but enough to at least keep the competition hot and the talk increasing as we approach the July 31st trading deadline.
The Red Sox have been tied to Prince Fielder rumors going back to last season and are arguably the most logical landing spot in the American League.
The Red Sox are unlikely to pick up David Ortiz's $12.5 million option this winter (though Ortiz is giving them something to think about) and picking up Fielder fills that void very nicely.
Fielder's defense is not a liability but he's not exactly a wizard of the webbing at first base. That will allow the Red Sox to keep Kevin Youkilis at first base and have Fielder slide into the designated hitter role.
That is unlikely to suit Fielder, but the Red Sox are the team with the most money to spend on the first baseman. The latter will be Fielder's main point of interest when he tests free agency.
However, acquiring Fielder now would create a significant log jam with Ortiz who is having a better-than-expected season. Ortiz's performance could force the Red Sox to wait until Fielder hits free agency.
The Angels are thinking about instant offense to replace the injured Kendry Morales for the second half of the 2010 season in a deal for Fielder. However, the Angels are thinking beyond 2010 as well.
Fortunately for the Angels, Morales is a free agent at the end of the season which is a perfect storm to bring in Fielder, let Morales walk and have the initial negotiating rights to Fielder. The Angels are also one of the leaders who can afford Fielder at the bank and give him the opportunity to play in the field on a regular bases.
If one were to handicap a National League's team chances of acquiring Fielder, the Giants would be the leader in the clubhouse. They have sough a big-time bat for the better part of the last three seasons.
Now the Giants have the pitching depth, especially young pitching, to go get Fielder. It would likely take Jonathan Sanchez or Madison Bumgarner (but don't rule out the Brewers asking for Matt Cain) to get Fielder, but that should be worth the price tag to get the cornerstone position player the club has lacked since Barry Bonds' left.
White Sox general manager Kenny Williams is always known for popping up and surprising many at the trade deadline. That may be no different this season as Williams may go get a power bat.
The White Sox have Paul Konerko at first base which would likely relegate Fielder to a designated hitter role in the second half. The White Sox may be left in the cold when it comes to signing Fielder this winter, but the gamble may be enough to persuade Williams who has watched his team get back in the thick of the AL Central race.
This seems like the most unlikely scenario for Fielder, but the trade market does not go that deep for the Brewers slugger.
The Rays have a power-hitting first baseman in Carlos Pena, but he is hovering on the interstate with his batting average and acquiring Fielder could be the difference for the Rays' pennant chase and in the postseason.
It all depends on how hard the Rays want to press the gas given Carl Crawford's impending free agency. The Rays would unlikely sign Fielder to the $20 million-plus he will ask for this offseason, but the team does have the pitching prospects to get Fielder for a second half push.