- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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Reports of the Chicago Cubs' pursuit of free agent Prince Fielder continue to be floated as major league sources told ESPNChicago.com that the Cubs have been interested in Fielder since first meeting with agent Scott Boras on Nov. 15 at the general managers meetings in Milwaukee.
Fielder has told friends he expects the Cubs to be involved in the bidding all the way. Other teams who have expressed interest are said to be the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and a bid from the Los Angeles Dodgers might be pending if they can get clearance from Major League Baseball to get involved. The Dodgers are under MLB control and the team is being run by the league until a new owner is found. But that does not preclude GM Ned Colletti from putting together his team.
There were indications Thursday that the Cubs are getting more involved in the Fielder sweepstakes and might be ready to step up their pursuit of the free agent first baseman, a league source told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
Fielder fits into the Cubs' present and future plans as laid out by president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. He has said the Cubs will try to build through the amateur draft and international scouting as well as trades and free agency for young building blocks for the franchise. At 27, Fielder fits into that category for the Cubs.
Fielder will seek a deal of seven years or more as a starting point.
The Cubs, who have a bid in on Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, have $60 million coming off the books from 2011, but they already have close to $100 million in commitments for 2012. That includes $75 million to just eight players not counting arbitration-eligible players or free agent reliever Kerry Wood, who they expect to sign. The Cubs already have $5 million on the books for 2012 as a deferred payment on Carlos Pena's 2011 contract.
The Cubs remain interested in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes.