The Seattle Mariners open the new year with much the same team with which they ended the old – some small improvements but nothing, as they’re saying in Iowa today, that has excited the base.
And Prince Fielder remains available.
It’s hard to build a case for or against whatever general manager Jack Zduriencik’s off-season plan is until a) we find out what it is and b) we learn whether he can pull it together. The market for Fielder would appear to have moved in Z’s direction – there are no big-market teams throwing years and cash at the big first baseman.
Scott Boras has been trying to manipulate the Nationals, Blue Jays, Cubs and – yes – Mariners into outbidding the other, without really proving anyone has laid a hard-cash offer on the table for Fielder.
Boras insisted his client had ‘no interest’ in a three-year contract, and has told at least one GM he wants an Albert Pujols-type deal.
Ironically, every team Boras has said is in the hunt has, at least publicly, shown a luke-warm interest.
Would Toronto, Washington, Chicago or Seattle be improved with Fielder’s presence? Without question. Are any of those teams willing to overpay in a down market?
Not so far.
Any day now, expect to read about the ‘secret team’ that’s bidding 10 years and $260 million for Fielder – with Boras as the source. It worked for him with Alex Rodriguez, because the Texas Rangers paid A-Rod twice his next highest offer.
Boras see his job as more than finding a good match between player and team. If misleading a prospective buyer drives the price up, he’s willing to do what it takes.
For now, Zduriencik isn’t biting. Neither is anyone else. It would be lovely to think that Fielder would sign a fair contract with a team where he wanted to play, but that’s rarely the case with Boras and his highest-profile clients.
This time, perhaps, Fielder will make the call and take a deal. Anything he signs will make him a very rich man, and how much is enough? Boras has never been able to answer that question.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Fielder did?