According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, a "surprising" number of baseball executives privately believe that when it's all said and done, the Los Angeles Dodgers may be major players for free-agent slugger Prince Fielder.
Could this be what Prince Fielder and agent Scott Boras are waiting for?
Stuff I heard and learned at BBWAA dinner: 1) surprising number of execs think #Dodgers will ultimately be in play for Prince Fielder (cont)— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 22, 2012
We all know that the team will have a new ownership prior to next season, and it is widely believed that not only will that ownership want to win but they will also be willing to spend serious money to do it. As part of Frank McCourt's settlement with Major League Baseball, Fox Sports will have exclusive negotiating rights for a mega-television contract following the 2012 season, which could infuse the new Dodgers regime with massive amounts of spending cash right off the bat. Of course the timeline plays an issue here. The Dodgers must be sold by April 1, but as of the latest reports there is nothing immediate on the table. While a new ownership group likely wouldn't be in control in time to land Fielder themselves, it's more than reasonable to assume that if the bidding groups were interested in Fielder, the current regime wouldn't hesitate to go out and attemp to get him to sweeten the pot.
That being said, the Dodgers are already in a competitive hole that a new ownership group would unquestionably want to attempt to cut down immediately. The Los Angeles Angels made a major play this offseason to capture the hearts of the Los Angeles baseball market by acquiring both Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. What better way to match the Angels' moves than with the acquisition of Prince Fielder and a new ownership group to infuse a stale fan base?
This could be bad news for the Nats who have, until now, seemed the most logical fit for Fielder. No other team has as big a hole (no pun intended) at first base, and no other team seems to be willing and able to spend the type of money to acquire the All-Star slugger. Yet here we are, inching closer and closer to February and still they have not been able to lock Fielder down. You would think that if both the club and the player were actually intent on making a deal, it would be done already.
That leads me to one of two conclusions. Either the Nationals aren't willing to truly play ball and give Fielder the type of contract he and his agent wants, or Fielder isn't earnestly interested in joining the Nationals, and he's just playing the market until a potential golden ticket to Los Angeles presents itself.
When you break it down, it would be hard to blame anyone for at least considering to join he Dodgers over the Nationals. Los Angeles is a sexy city, and you would be joining not only the man who should have won the NL MVP, Matt Kemp, but also the best starting pitcher in the league, Calyton Kershaw. Both teams look to rebuild through their incredibly talented youth...but the Dodgers have at least some of that talent locked up over the long term, and Los Angeles has a much longer history of competition than Washington.
As late as today several journalists have named the Nationals as the reigning favorites to sign Fielder. But each day that passes, I think it's less and less likely that it is going to happen.