Suitors lining up for Prince Fielder

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Thursday, December 1, 2011
— One by one, reports are surfacing that teams expected to show interest in Milwaukee Brewers free agent Prince Fielder are doing exactly that, one week before the winter meetings convene in Dallas.

Reports from FoxSports.com indicate the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs have interest in Fielder, though one outlet suggested Albert Pujols is the Cubs’ primary free-agent target. An mlb.com report out of Seattle indicates the Mariners will explore the possibility of signing Fielder as well.

None of the reports was surprising because the Nationals, Cubs and Mariners regularly have been listed among clubs expected to show interest in Fielder this winter. Whether any are prepared to approach the eight-year, $200 million contract that agent Scott Boras is seeking remains to be seen.

“There are so many factors there and nobody knows where that number will end up,” said Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik, who was the Brewers’ scouting director when the team drafted Fielder in the first round in 2002 and remains a big fan of the slugger.

“There’s no question we could use a big bat in the middle of our lineup, but where is your limitation and threshold? We’ll go down that road and experiment and see where it ends up, but until things get more definitive we’ll just have to wait and see,” Zduriencik told mlb.com.

The Cubs have not publicly expressed interest in either Pujols or Fielder, but reports say Chicago’s new management team is ready for a bold move. ESPN.com reported that the Cubs have “reached out” to Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, but no club source confirmed it.

The chance that Chicago might make a move on Fielder is linked in part to the hiring of former Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum as the new manager. Sveum and Fielder have a close relationship and Sveum might be a lure if the Cubs seriously pursue the first baseman.

There have been conflicting reports out of Washington as to the Nationals’ possible interest. Club officials have said they don’t have the inclination or budget space to pursue a free agent of Fielder’s caliber, but FoxSports said the sides talked before “some roadblocks” developed.

To this point, the Brewers have shown no inclination to make an offer. General manager Doug Melvin said he would monitor the market to see where it goes, giving Fielder the opportunity to gauge outside interest.

Should the market head in the direction Boras seeks, it is likely the Brewers will back off completely.

Last updated: 7:12 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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