The Prince Fielder rumors took another interesting turn on Monday night when Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton admitted that his team could be deciding between the two on a long-term deal.
The Rangers have remained coy about their interest in Fielder, but CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported on Monday that they love Prince, and vice versa, but said that they are not the favorite to sign the hefty slugger.
Hamilton's desire for a long-term deal could be the main reason why Fielder won't end up in Texas. The former AL MVP wants a long-term deal in Texas, which the Rangers would be unlikely to offer him if they give a massive deal to Fielder.
It comes down to what you want, Hamilton told MLB.com on Monday night. I see people comparing us. Put him in center field and see how long he lasts. Put me at first and see how long I last. He's played 160 games in a season a lot. I haven't. There are pros and cons. It's pretty fun to watch.
Texas also doled out a six-year, $60 million contract to Yu Darvish -- plus a $51.7 million posting fee -- which could limit the team's spending a bit. After the signing, team general manager Jon Daniels told reporters that the Darvish signing would make it very unlikely for the Rangers to be able to afford Fielder, but that now seems more like a strategic play than reality.
The Rangers remain in contention for the former Milwaukee Brewer, but the Washington Nationals are the prohibitive favorite in the Fielder sweepstakes. The Nationals have been the favorites to land Fielder from the beginning, but have reportedly squabbled over the length of contract for the first baseman.
Fielder wants a deal close to the 10-year contract Albert Pujols got from the Angels, according to MLB.com, while the Nationals are much more comfortable offering him a five or six-year deal. Fielder, who hit 38 home runs and batted in 120 RBIs last year, is looking for a contract in the neighborhood of $200 million, but the market seems to place his value at around $160-$170 million.
The Nationals have shown willingness to spend a lot of money in the past -- they gave Jayson Werth a $126 million contract -- and adding Fielder to an already strong, young nucleus could finally allow the team to leapfrog its NL East rivals into the playoffs.
Adding a powerful slugger like Fielder to a lineup that already includes Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, and at some point Bryce Harper, would be the major move the Nationals need to compete. The Nationals already made a major move by signing pitcher Gio Gonzalez to bolster its pitching staff, but now are looking for that big bat to boost the offense.
If not the Nationals or Rangers, the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs, and Toronto Blue Jays have all been rumored to have some interest in Fielder. The Baltimore Orioles have showed willingness to open up the checkbook for a big name slugger in the past -- they tried to get Mark Teixeira before he went to the Yankees -- but are years away from competing and might not be of much interest to Fielder.
The Mariners had been desperate for some offensive firepower, but acquired Jesus Montero from the Yankees to ameliorate their offensive woes. They could still be interested in adding a player of Fielder's caliber, but the Montero acquisition seems to have quelled those desires a bit.