If Pujols doesn't beat him there first, I expect Fielder will sign with the lowly Cubs who will be looking to make a big splash and stay relevant.
Coming off an All-Star Game MVP performance, first baseman Prince Fielder is very likely to leave the Brewers next season the same way they lost CC Sabathia three years ago. Milwaukee fans should be accustomed to that by now and they would be wise to re-allocate their savings, as Fielder's next contract may approach the vicinity of $200 million while the team still hopes to re-sign the likes of Corey Hart, Zack Grienke, and Casey McGehee to longer-term deals.
If Milwaukee could essentially pull off a 3-for-1 and keep the above three, that would be a major win that should be able to keep them in contention in the weak NL Central for the foreseeable future. Couple this with the impending free agency and (as I predict) inevitable departure of Albert Pujols from rival St. Louis, and the Brewers' path to the postseason may get easier even without Fielder.
Chicago Cubs: With Carlos Pena disappointing (to no one’s surprise—the guy sucks, let’s just be honest) and playing with a one-year contract, upgrading at first base will assuredly be a priority. I expect the Cubs to sign either Pujols or Fielder.
The positives are that Chicago is a major market and players know they can and will get (over) paid here. You can argue that Wrigley is a hitter’s park (and it obviously is), but at the end of the day all the players want is to get paid. If winning comes that’s a nice bonus, but if players really cared about winning, why in the world would they sign with an organization that not only hasn’t won in 102 years but effectively markets their ineptitude with their woe-is-us sob stories each year? If you want to be a loser, join the Cubs, simple as that.
New York Yankees/Boston Red Sox: Why not combine them? Watching either one of these spoiled, elitist fan bases is interchangeable with the annoying, selfish, arrogant fans who think baseball is their pedestal and the world revolves around them.
After the con job the Yankee$ did with stealing Mark Teixeira, who should have gone home to the Orioles (yes, I am a bitter Orioles fan), and after giving no indication of the sort in the months prior and swooping in like the vultures they are at the eleventh hour, we should never trust their word and anything they have to say.
Honestly, after the Texiera maneuver, nothing would surprise me with either of these slimy snakes.
LA Angels: Who exactly is their first baseman now? Exactly. Whoever he is, he can't can’t be any better than a talent like Fielder. Moreover, like with the Cubs, free agents know they can get paid here as Los Angeles is a big market. Finally, after getting burned by Carl Crawford last year in free agency, my guess is they won’t be caught off guard again.
Texas Rangers: They are hot, having won 11 in a row. Their appearance in the World Series last year combined with their performance in 2011 suggests they have staying power as a postseason contender for the foreseeable future. Now sold, with their financial troubles seemingly nonexistent, why couldn’t they upgrade at first base, which is currently manned by Chris Davis (hardly an immovable incumbent)?
Hey, if they can overpay for Adrian “contract year” Beltre and his joke of a contract in the midst of being sold, who's to say they can’t do it again with a better player in Fielder? They might say they can’t do it, but don’t believe them.
New York Mets: So you think they are broke, right? They have Carlos Beltran and his $18.5 million contract coming off the books along with Francisco Rodriguez, who they’ve already traded. I’ve already suggested that Michael Cuddyer could be taking their money as someone will have to—especially if Jose Reyes leaves, which I don’t expect after all. They have to build and market their team around someone.
Atlanta Braves: They like to whine that they don’t have money and that they are really a mid-market team, but don’t buy that either. They are like the Cardinals, a whiny club that masks themselves as such when really they are one of the “big boys.” Don’t think for a minute that they wouldn’t dump Freddie Freeman if they had a chance to upgrade with Fielder.
St. Louis Cardinals: If they lose Albert Pujols, they’ll have money to spend on someone with an obvious need in the field. As for the rest of what I think about them, see Atlanta Braves above.
Don’t be shocked if these teams are in the mix:
Washington Nationals: They showed last year they have money and will spend it as they did on Jayson Werth. Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper are on the way, which means this is an up and coming team. I’m a big Michael Morse fan, and I’d love to see him shift to the outfield which would make the team all the deeper, versus getting rid of him entirely, which I think would be a mistake.
Aaron Boone suggested right after the Werth signing that they will be back with money to spend this offseason. Players like Fielder and Pujols are likely exactly who he had in mind.
Seattle Mariners: Every few years the Mariners seem to pry open the pocket books and dust off the cobwebs. We’ve seen them come out of nowhere and sign Beltre and Richie Sexson in a lone offseason of “Who saw that coming?” moves. Fielder would certainly qualify.
Baltimore Orioles: Quit laughing. Seriously, Derrek Lee is only on a one-year deal and after getting snubbed rather rudely by the sellout that is Texiera, one of these years owner Peter Angelos has to realize its not 1992 anymore and that you have to spend money if you want players to come. In their case, they will have to overpay, but maybe they get desperate?