Mariners Insider Blog

In the Prince Fielder auction, no one is bidding

An update on the status of free agent first baseman Prince Fielder is that more teams seem to be going in other directions and the market is smaller than his RBI total or his waist size.

The Seattle Mariners say they have not made an offer. The Toronto Blue Jays say they haven't, either, and the Chicago Cubs just traded for Anthony Rizzo, a player they think is the first baseman of their future. The Dodgers ownership is in transition, and Fielder isn't on their to-do list.

And the Washington Nationals, according to MLB writer Bill Ladson, aren't willing to commit the kind of money and years for Fielder that agent Scott Boras is asking for.

So what's left? Fielder likely will have to wait to see if the Texas Rangers land Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, which must happen before a Jan. 18 deadline. If they don't, Boras believes the Rangers will spend that money on a king-sized contract with Prince.

And, if they do sign Darvish?

In that event, Fielder's market would seem to be Washington, Toronto and Seattle. While none is willing to fork out $250 million over 10 years, one of them surely will make Fielder a very rich man. Not as rich as he'd hoped, but very rich.  Boras will undoubtedly use his 'secret team' ruse again, trying to get the Nationals, Mariners and Blue Jays to drive the price up by bidding against some unknown pursuer.

If it is, in the end, a buyers market, Fielder might make his choice on - gasp - not the biggest offer but the best situation to play in. Toronto would tax him heavily, and the Jays future in the American League East is clouded by the Yankees and Red Sox budgets.

Washington is an up-and-coming team that finished 21 1/2 games behind Philadelphia last season. And Seattle has pitching, a young offense that could be on the come but a team that seems light years behind Texas and Los Angles.

Do the Mariners have a chance to sign Fielder? In truth, probably not. They're committed to a youth movement that includes Justin Smoak and Mike Carp, and Fielder - as long as Boras has breath in his body - is not going to sign any deal that isn't a) huge and b) record setting in some way. It doesn't seem a fit now any more than it did two months ago.

Still, until Fielder signs somewhere, Seattle won't say it's in or out of the running. So Mariners fans will believe there's a chance. It's never been a good one, and it hasn't improved, even in a down market.