After weeks spent wandering through the free agent wilderness, might Prince Fielder and Scott Boras finally be reaching the end of their riches-seeking road?
Maybe, if an early morning report from analyst Jim Bowden turns out to be true. The former GM says the Washington Nationals and the slugger "continue to work" on a deal but that nothing has been reached. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, meanwhile, confirms that a deal has not been finalized.
Noise between the Nats and Fielder is nothing new. The nation's capitol has seemed like the most logical of landing spots for the former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman for quite some time now, even though Boras has done his best to paint a picture of a multi-team feeding frenzy. And as if on cue, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the field has been "narrowed to something close to a final 4."
But which four (or more) teams are we talking here?
The Nationals, for sure. They have baseball's richest owner, a new TV deal coming up and a young and promising team that would be attractive to a man who's leaving a team that won 96 games and a division title last years.
The Texas Rangers are almost assuredly a team on that list, though last week's outlay of $111 million for Yu Darvish would logically put a strain on the franchise's budget.
The Seattle Mariners as the third? Probably, though I pretty much believe 1) they're hanging around on hopes of a market-collapsing bargain and 2) Boras is only too happy to use them as a means to maintain the appearance of interest.
As for the fourth (or more) squads, that's where it gets a little murky. Jen Royle floats a report that Buck Showalter asked owner Peter Angelos for the money to make Fielder a member of the Baltimore Orioles. Speculation over the weekend had the Los Angeles Dodgers attempting to boost the value of the franchise by bringing the big man to town. And maybe Boras is simply just counting a team once rumored to be interested, like the Toronto Blue Jays or the Chicago Cubs.
Tyler Kepner of the New York Times had an interesting piece over the weekend that looked at Fielder's dwindling market, a fact that contradicts the slugger's superstar status. It's worth the read just to read Boras' spin on this never-ending saga, but it really does paint a picture of a demand that never arrived after Albert Pujols signed his monster contract.
That has to be a bitter pill for Fielder and Boras to swallow and one wonders how long it will take them to accept reality and head to a Nationals team that makes the most sense, even if it's not for anything close to what Pujols commanded.
Could be this week, could be the next or the one after that.
But I really do think Fielder to the Nats is inevitable.