How the Cubs-Padres Trade Affects Fielder

So a day after I write up a treatise on the Nationals and Prince Fielder, it turns out there’s even more to say about the oversized first baseman.

Navigating the offseason can be a tricky process for agents and for teams. As an agent, if you rush to get your players signed too quickly, you risk leaving money on the table. Long negotiations give more teams a chance to get in on the bidding, and players certainly don’t want to sign the first offer they receive. But if an agent waits too long to get his player signed, the agent face the danger of watching his player’s market evaporate. It’s a delicate balance, and being a successful agent requires being able to judge a player’s market and know when it’s the optimal time to sign.

There’s nobody better at judging markets and knowing when to make a deal than Scott Boras. With that said, I’m beginning to wonder if he’s going to have a tough time drumming up a large price tag for Prince Fielder.

So far this offseason, there have only been a few teams rumored as potential landing spots for Fielder. The Mariners have had some interest, but they’re not a great fit — and they haven’t seriously pursued Fielder. The Rangers have said they might consider Fielder if their talks with Yu Darvish fall through. The Orioles might go after him if his value utterly plummets. The Marlins briefly contemplated going after Fielder, but then decided against it. Noticing a trend here? The Nationals have been the team that’s displayed the most interest in Fielder, but as I spelled out earlier, there are some significant reasons why they may not be gung-ho about signing him. So far, the best way to describe their interest would be “inquisitive, but tepid.”

The Cubs had never really had much interest in Fielder, but given their large market and their hole at first base, it didn’t seem unreasonable to think that they might sweep into the negotiations late and make a run at Fielder. But now that the Cubs have acquired Anthony Rizzo, we can cross that team off the list of Fielder’s potential landing spots.

I make it a habit never to underestimate Scott Boras, but even he can’t wring wine out of dry rocks. At the moment, there simply aren’t any teams out there willing to pay big money for Fielder, and without any large market teams in the mix, it’s nearly impossible to get a bidding war started. Could it be Fielder only ends up getting small offers, and that he has to be content with something less than Boras’ initial demands?

I’m not sure I see any team out there right now that has the money to go big for Fielder and doesn’t already have an established first baseman (or a young prospect coming up). Maybe the Blue Jays? There are teams I could see getting in on the bidding for Fielder if his price dropped: the Marlins, Mariners and Nats would want to reconsider matters — but I’m getting increasingly skeptical that Fielder’s deal will be a whopper.

But then again, this is Scott Boras. If history is any judge, you’d be better off betting on him and against me.

Piper was the editor-in-chief of DRaysBay and the keeper of the FanGraphs Library.

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10 years ago

I think the annual money will be the same, but the length of the deal will be shorter. Boras was probably looking for 8 to 10 years. My guess is the Nats will sign him for 5 to 6 years at rougly $21 to $23 million per year. The longer the deal, the smaller the annual amount. All about risk.