While some had considered the Washington Nationals as unlikely bidders for one of the two major free-agent first baseman as a result of their current logjam at the position, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports insists that the club is a major player for free-agent Prince Fielder and view him as their top offensive target.
Fielder, who is looking for a contract similar to the eight-year, $180 million contract that the New York Yankees gave Mark Teixeira in 2008. According to Rosenthal however, the talks hit a snag today between the Nationals and Fielder’s agent Scott Boras. When it comes to Boras though, a snag is usually more of a negotiating ploy rather than a sign that a deal can’t get done.
Nats GM Mike Rizzo and Boras have a strong working relationship with one another, even if they have had heated battles over players the last several years. In fact, Boras clients made up a good portion of the Nats roster in 2010. Rick Ankiel, Alex Cora, Danny Espinosa, Jayson Werth, Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Ivan Rodriguez, Anthony Rendon, Brian Goodwin and Alex Meyer are all clients of Boras.
This news represents a major shift toward aggression by the Nationals front office. It had previously been assumed that with Adam LaRoche’s heavy $8 million contract that the club would eat their losses and try to recoup their investment with him at first base this season. But when you consider giving a player a contract worth $180-200 million, eating an extra $8 million suddenly seems like less of a big deal, especially if you acquire an All-Star talent.
Fielder obviously would help improve the Nats lineup, and as a left-handed hitter, he would provide a good threat from the opposite side of the plate as Mike Morse, Jayson Werth, and Ryan Zimmerman. In 2011 Fielder hit .299/.390/.566 with 38 home runs and 120 RBI, making him one of the more valuable players in the league. He finished third in the MVP voting.
If the Nats were to land Fielder it would also allow them more flexibility in trading first base prospect Chris Marrero. We spoke this weekend on how it was probably time to move the first basemen anyway, but acquiring a franchise level talent could just expedite the issue. His value isn’t as high as it once was, but he could be a chip in acquiring an everyday centerfielder or starting pitcher.