Another day passes, Prince Fielder remains unsigned. In the longest free agency in history for someone (presumably) hoping to sign a nine-figure deal, Fielder’s contract will be of extreme interest whenever he does get it. It certainly seems no one is willing to commit to pursuing Fielder at his current asking price.
But just what are the demands that appear to be so high that 30 major league teams are balking at them?
Well, if you ask Nolan Ryan apparently not even the teams know exactly.
In an interview with ESPN Dallas 103.3 radio, Ryan was asked specifically how much the price tag would have to come down in order for Fielder to become a serious possibility for the Rangers (who just laid out nearly $112 million to sign Yu Darvish). His answer was about as clear as anything else regarding the Fielder negotiations to this point.
“Hard to say,” Ryan said. “Because they’ve never made a firm proposal to us. They talk in generalities and numbers and other people’s contracts, and so you can speculate what it is. One time they’re talking eight years, one time they’re talking 10 years, one time they’re talking about a contract bigger than Ryan Howard’s in Philadelphia.”
For the record, Howard signed a five-year, $135 million extension in April of 2010 that’s set to kick when the 2012 season starts — an extension that will pay Howard $20 million in each of the next two seasons and $25 million in 2014, 2015 and 2016. There’s also a $23 million club option for 2017 with a $10 million buyout. Almost immediately after Howard signed the deal it began getting panned for it’s exorbitance. When Howard ruptured his left Achilles tendon while making the final out of Philadelphia’s 2011 season, it was an additional gut-punch to know that contract would just be kicking in as Howard rehabbed the injury this spring.
To be fair, Fielder is just 27 where Howard is 32 but the vagueness of Ryan’s answer seems only fitting considering the way Fielder’s free agency seems to have played out to this point. Boras always has a way of finding a bidder for his players — especially his top players — but as the Super Bowl, spring training and Opening Day drift ever closer, it’ll be fascinating to see if and when that will happen here.
Stay (or remain at least) tuned.