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Nationals pursue Prince Fielder for first base

Nov 28, 2011, 6:18 PM EDT

Prince Fielder AP

While the Nationals have long maintained that Adam LaRoche would reclaim the first-base job in 2012, they’ve always been looked at as potential bidders for Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder anyway. From Ken Rosenthal comes word that the Nationals have indeed engaged in talks with Fielder, but that those talks hit a roadblock today.

Fielder, coming off a third-place finish in the NL MVP balloting, is believed to be looking for something like $200 million over eight years on the open market. It’s a price the Nationals could conceivably pay for an established franchise player to go along with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper as the faces of the team’s future. Rosenthal, though, suggests that the Nationals may soon move on to Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes instead.

Cespedes, whose price tag figures to eclipse $50 million, would be an even bigger gamble for the Nationals than for other teams, because the Nats would need him to stay in center and play in between Harper and Jayson Werth in their 2013 outfield. Many suitors view Cespedes as a better option in right field.

Fielder appears to have only a limited number of suitors at the moment, so the Nationals may be better off lingering in the weeds and seeing if his price tag tumbles a bit. It’d be one thing to pay the portly slugger $25 million per year; it’s going to seven or eight years on such a deal that would make it terribly risky.

  1. mianfr - Nov 28, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    I’m kind of anticipating some big but short contracts for the first basemen. Realistically, there’s no sense in being locked up long term at a highly competitive price when you can max out on one year (~$25-30M) and then wait until next year to pursue a contract one year shorter in length.

    Prince isn’t going to do a 7/$126M deal.

    • dan1111 - Nov 29, 2011 at 5:50 AM

      Players almost always choose a longer contract with a higher total value over a short contract, even if the latter offers more dollars per year. The long contract is generally the better deal for them, because the team bears all of the risk of their decline. And this risk is considerable. Many, if not most, players are not worth the money they are paid by the end.

  2. drmonkeyarmy - Nov 28, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    Werth is capable of playing a decent CF. If they sign Fielder, Werth will end up playing there anyway in 2013…with Harper and Morse at the corners.

    • CJ - Nov 28, 2011 at 7:19 PM

      Great point about Morse, he must’ve been overlooked in the article, but how long can Werth play a decent CF?

      • foreverchipper10 - Nov 29, 2011 at 12:45 PM

        I was also curious about Morse. Dudes numbers went through the roof when he moved to 1B. I wonder if putting him back in the OF means a drop in offensive production. I would much rather play him at 1st and ditch LaRoche.

    • natstowngreg - Nov 28, 2011 at 8:36 PM

      Return from an Internet-less week, and this is the first thing I see.

      If the Nats sign Prince, I will cheer for him. But I’d still rather see Rizzo spread that cash around to fill more needs, and throw some of it at Ryan Zimmerman to keep him around for the longer term.

      No surprise that Michael Morse was overlooked, I’d still like to see him returned to 1B and left there — though it might not be until 2013, or when Harper is deemed ready, or if LaRoche gets hurt again, whichever comes first. He’s not as good as LaRoche defensively, but he’s not bad.

      If all that leaves Werth in CF, OK, but I’d hope Rizzo can get someone who can do better, and move Werth back to RF.

      Of course, given Prince’s opinion of his value, this all may be academic.

  3. mojosmagic - Nov 28, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    That Worth contract will end up being their undoing.

  4. crankyfrankie - Nov 28, 2011 at 10:54 PM

    As hard as they were after Upton I don’t think that Rizzo and company view Werth as a CF solution.Can’t see Fielder as the Nats are a year away from serious contention. Zimmerman might be the best 3rd baseman in the NL right now so signing him long term, to me, seems like the kind of commitment the Nats fans could get behind.

    • dan1111 - Nov 29, 2011 at 6:08 AM

      “the Nats are a year away from serious contention.” I disagree. They will have a rotation fronted by Strasburg and Zimmermann, complemented by lots of other solid pitchers. Their pitching was already pretty good last year, even without Strasburg. This year it could be dominant. Offense is the problem; someone like Fielder could vault them into contention, especially if they could make a few smart marginal improvements at other positions.

  5. Old Gator - Nov 29, 2011 at 4:11 AM

    How hard can it be to pursue Prince Fielder? As long as there’s no broken glass in your sneakers, it shouldn’t take long to overtake him.

    • unclemosesgreen - Nov 29, 2011 at 7:48 AM

      That “portly slugger” (hmmm … because he bats from the port side??) is surprisingly light on his feet.

      Fielder wants $200 million, C.J. Wilson wants $100 million, Cespedes wants $50 million. Agents really like round numbers with lots of zeroes, don’t they?

  6. dcfan4life - Nov 29, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    Fielder is not what the Nats need right now. They need an outfielder who gets on base. Morse had a great season, and played solid defense in the outfield and first base. Laroche is a tremendous defensive player and if he bounces back with his bat, that could bolster the lineup. I like the idea of the Cuban defector. And im not sure how such a smaller price tag is such a higher risk, but there definitely could be a bigger payoff. Add a speedy center fielder who actually gets on base (im looking at you Nyjer Morgan), and this team will contend all year.

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