No matter how many times nor how many different ways the Texas Rangers deny interest in free agent first baseman Prince Fielder, someone always seems to list the two-time defending AL Champs as the favorites to sign him.
Given the tactics often employed by Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, it’s hard to imagine any club being named as the favorite for Fielder being anything but a wild guess. Nevertheless, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, who is an underrated source for off-season news and rumors, did just that in his recent column.
The general sentiment surrounding Fielder and the Rangers is that it just makes too much sense for it not to happen. But what we don’t know is what other clubs are involved and how much they might be willing to spend on the slugger. We don’t know because in this game of secrecy, not even the players know the script being followed by Boras.
In a recent piece for MLB.com, Richard Justice pulled the Boras curtain back a bit and attempted to shed some light on how previous negotiations had gone with the super-agent. Unfortunately, very little was learned. It turns out, even several years later, the Houston Astros have no idea whether or not they were even close in their failed attempt to re-sign Carlos Beltran.
Justice also details the Alex Rodriguez contract with the Rangers, the one where many believe the Texas ballclub bid against themselves in spending $252 million to land the then-shortstop. The Atlanta Braves were involved in the bidding back then, and they believe that their bid, roughly $100 million less than the Rangers’, was second-best. Boras, for his part, insists that there was another club who pushed Texas to the brink. Of course, he says that; to admit otherwise would be to remove the illusion from his magic show.
There are rumors that the Mariners, the Orioles, the Cubs, and the Nationals are all in on Fielder. There seem to be just as many rumors that say none of those clubs are interested. The smoke and mirrors being deployed not only by Boras, but also by the potential suitors, is an impressive thing indeed.
Generally speaking, when it comes to off-season rumors, where there is smoke, there’s fire. When Boras is involved, that doesn’t always seem to be the case. Eventually Fielder will sign a deal. His new contract will probably come from one of the half-dozen or so clubs that have been linked to him so far. But, then again, it may not. Maybe there is a mystery team laying in the weeds; one that will either drive up the price, or swoop in last-minute to steal the prize.