Updating Prince Fielder's Five Most Likely Destinations This Offseason as a Free Agent
The Milwaukee Brewers, just like in season's past, have opted to run with the "all or nothing" concept this season. Trading for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum this offseason validate that statement fully.
However, when it comes to Milwaukee's most famous slugger, Prince Fielder, the Brewers and GM Doug Melvin have all but closed the proverbial door on a potential trade to move their superstar. Because, let's face it: these Brewers have virtually zero shot at the World Series without their luminary clean-up hitter.
If the Brewers and Melvin elect not to trade Fielder this season, which teams will have the best shot at landing the most-coveted free agent of this generation?
Let's break down and summarize five teams (in no particular order) with the best shot at signing Fielder this offseason.
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The Nationals will have a lot of breathing room when free agency rolls around, and that might be enough for them to seriously pursue Fielder.
Jayson Werth is due to make $10.5 million this season, and Jason Marquis' $7.5 million salary makes Washington's two-most expensive players. The rest of the Nationals' players are making no more than $3 million each—this gives management a lot of money to work with in free agency.
With a solid core of young players headlined by Werth, Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and soon-to-be called up Bryce Harper, the Nationals would be serious contenders with Fielder in the lineup.
Behind Jose Bautista, the Blue Jays are already one of baseball's most powerful offenses. With Fielder in the lineup, the AL East would become a whole lot more interesting in 2012.
Adam Lind currently holds down first base for Toronto, but could easily move to designated hitter.
The only problem is the Blue Jays' $61 million (and change) payroll, which ranks 22nd overall in MLB, behind the likes of even the Brewers themselves.
Be that as it may, Toronto could easily dump and/or trade some of their lesser players during the season to make room for Fielder's mammoth contract in 2012.
It may seem like a picturesque addition, but this is highly unlikely.
It's easy to be skeptical about this one, but, then again, doesn't it seem right?
The Mariners have an almost identical payroll as the Brewers ($84 million and change), but don't have nearly the amount of massive contracts as Milwaukee.
Third baseman Chone Figgins (who's set to make $9.5 million in 2011) could become trade bait at the deadline. Current first baseman Justin Smoak could find a new position if Fielder makes his way to the great northwest.
The only downside with this deal would be whether or not Fielder feels he could find immediate success with the Mariners. Though there's no disputing Seattle holds great farm talent, their current roster isn't quite up to snuff.
It's certainly something to think about, though.
Although owner Mark Attanasio insists that Ryan Braun's contract extension has no connection to Fielder's future with the ballclub, you have to believe something bad is brewing in Milwaukee.
Fielder has become the face of the Brewers for the better part of six seasons, and fans won't be please to see him leave for the sake of a pay raise.
Nevertheless, the Brewers will be extremely short on cash once the season finishes due to the contracts of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, and it doesn't seem likely for Milwaukee to resign Fielder.
Still, I wouldn't put it past GM Doug Melvin to shock us all once again.
Probably the biggest stretch of any team mentioned, the Giants may also be the most in need of Fielder's services.
Aubrey Huff, 34, was magnificent in their World Series run in 2010, and continues to be a solid offensive and defensive facilitator in Bruce Bochy's lineup, but certainly isn't the answer moving forward.
San Fransisco will more than likely be able to give Fielder the money and years he's looking for in a contract.
The winning environment in San Fransisco will certainly be enough for Fielder to have some interest.