Just Going to Put This Out There…
Prince Fielder will be signing with the Washington Nationals this offseason. It makes way too much sense on multiple levels. Observe:
First, Fielder is a Scott Boras client (as are Jayson Werth, Stephen Strasburg, and Bryce Harper). Contrary to popular belief, Ted Lerner does not own the Washington Nationals. Scott Boras does. Also contrary to popular belief, Mike Rizzo does not control the team’s personnel decisions. Scott Boras does. The Nationals are his little piggy bank bitch. Remember, we’re talking about a guy who convinced this (desperate) franchise to fork over $126 million on a seven-year deal to Jayson fucking Werth. Why wouldn’t he go back for more, especially when he can sell a superior player?
Second, Prince Fielder has made it no secret over the past few years that he’ll be going for the fattest, most lucrative contract made available to him. Notable rich teams such as the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies are not in need of a first baseman. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Orange County of the great state of Mexifornia and their owner, Art Moreno, are never shy about anteing up to get their man in free agency. It would seem, however, that the organization is committed to Mark Trumbo (Edit: Originally had “Mike” — was thinking of Angels super prospect Mike Trout) as the future at first base. Same goes for the financially precarious Mets, who have Ike Davis (dude’s really good); they’ll be spending all their money to re-sign Jose Reyes, anyway. The Cubs also have the resources to sign anyone they want and could certainly be a player in both the Fielder and Albert Pujols sweepstakes. But, as we saw last offseason, the Washington Nationals are hellbent on becoming a respectable, competitive franchise. The Jayson Werth contract, laughably idiotic and ridiculous as it was, was ownership and management’s way of announcing that they’re ready to step into the marketplace and spend with the big boys. Signing prized free agents to supplement its burgeoning young talent is “Phase Two” of the Nationals’ master plan to build a contender, so said Mike Rizzo last summer. And the franchise wants to create a buzz and become a legitimate fixture in the DC sports landscape, right? Well, I’d say a 27-year old Prince Fielder fits in quite nicely with that vision. Crazy money aside, don’t tell me the mammoth slugger wouldn’t be interested in getting out of Ryan Braun’s shadow in Milwaukee, being THE marquee guy (at least on offense) in a major American metropolitan sports market, and turning Nationals Park into his own personal launching pad.
Edit (8/31): Ooooh, the Blue Jays could/should definitely be in the mix as a dark horse in the Fielder sweepstakes.
Third, the Nats are close to being a serious contender. Real close. Stephen Strasburg will be back in 2012. Bryce Harper will likely be a regular by 2013, at the latest (I think he should play center field in the majors, by the way, if the team remains committed to Werth in right). The possibility exists for a middle of the lineup consisting of Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Prince Fielder, and Mike Morse (who has made me look much smarter and more clairvoyant than I really am; he’d transition back to left field with the Fielder signing). If things go right for the Nats and continue to go terribly wrong for the Redskins, Washington, DC, will be a baseball town in relative short order. And I mean that sincerely. This is a bandwagon city to the max, and the people here just want to see a winner. The Nationals have an unprecedented opportunity to fill the sports void that the hapless Skins have created and the Caps can’t take advantage of because nobody gives a flying fuck about hockey. So many people already wear fucking Nationals hats as some sort of fashion statement despite probably being unable to name five players on the roster; the only logical next step is to, you know, drum up enough interest to actually get them to watch and follow the team.
Prince Fielder: 7 years/$150 million. It’s happening, call it a hunch. Also, the only reason I’m even writing this is so that I can gloat about it like a smug asshole if I happen to be right. As long as you know that.
Giving a long-term deal to a player of Fielder’s, uh, build is a considerable risk going forward because, barring a radical body transformation, the odds of him aging gracefully aren’t exactly favorable. However, the immediate rewards of plugging such a prodigious power hitter into your lineup have serious potential, both on the field and at the ticket office.
Edit (8/31): If you choose to believe what a “baseball source within the Nationals organization” said concerning the team’s supposed lack of interest in Prince Fielder because it has Adam LaRoche under contract for 2012 (at an $8 million price tag), that’s your prerogative. Admittedly, I forgot LaRoche, out for the season since May after shoulder surgery, signed a two-year deal. Forgive me. When healthy, he’s a fine first baseman who plays excellent defense and has put up sneakily solid offensive numbers over the course of his career. Regardless, LaRoche isn’t the kind of player who’s going to excite the masses and get fickle fans to show up to the ballpark on a nightly basis. Neither is Jayson Werth. You know who is? Prince Fielder. The potential synergy of pairing Fielder with Stephen Strasburg and, eventually, Bryce Harper is a pretty enticing proposition, no? I understand that Mike Rizzo is fixated on getting a center fielder, but there don’t appear to be any legitimately appealing candidates in free agency to fill the position (unless you want to count the oft-injured Grady Sizemore, who’ll be part of the class if the Indians decide to decline his $9 million club option). He could still always trade for Denard Span, which almost happened at the deadline in exchange for Drew Storen, or even B.J. Upton. Team source or no team source — because, as we all know, a team source would NEVER intentionally disseminate false information to a journalist — my opinion hasn’t changed: Signing Fielder is the right move for the Nationals as the organization tries to build a winner.