SEATTLE -- With a proposed trade for Washington Nationals slugger Adam Dunn stuck in the mud, the White Sox appear to have made Milwaukee first baseman Prince Fielder their next target, with Toronto's Jose Bautista an option as well.
Multiple outlets are reporting the possibility of a Fielder deal, something that wasn’t likely a week ago. Since then, though, White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham has found his swing and Daniel Hudson looked impressive in an outing against the Mariners on Monday.
Both are said to be required in any deal that involves Fielder, who would fit the White Sox’s need for a left-handed power hitter they could plug into the designated hitter spot.
Hudson and Beckham would be a high price to pay, but the price to get Fielder doesn’t stop there. He is still owed more than $4 million for the rest of this season and then has one last year of arbitration for the 2011 season.
Estimates are that Fielder could earn as much as $16 million next season alone. If the White Sox don’t try to keep Fielder a second season it would amount to giving up two of their top young players in Hudson and Beckham for a three month rental player. Two months if the White Sox don’t make the postseason.
Denying that the trade landscape has changed, general manager Ken Williams did have a more determined look Wednesday. He had a closed-door session with manager Ozzie Guillen before Wednesday’s game and met with more team personnel in an area off limits to the media.
“When you’re in first place, it’s nicer,” Williams said of the time period immediately before the July 31 non-waiver deadline. “When you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s not so nice. But we’re always in the same mode. It’s just kind of waiting for other teams to get in the same mode of wanting to do things and be kind of more aggressive along those lines of moving personnel around.”
The 26-year-old Fielder drove in 141 runs with the Brewers last season, but he is well off that pace in 2010, with 45 RBIs in 95 games. His 1.014 OPS is down to .902 this season and his .264 batting average is well under his career mark of .281.
The 29-year-old Bautista would be a more affordable alternative to Fielder, but he doesn’t fill the need of a left-handed power hitter. The Blue Jay’s power source leads baseball with 26 home runs. He is one of just 14 players in baseball, before the start of play Wednesday with at least 20 home runs. Paul Konerko (21) is another.
Bautista has about $1 million left on his contract this season, and the Blue Jays aren’t expected to hold out for both Hudson and Beckham in a deal.
As of now, it appears the Williams is more focused on a blockbuster deal and not a reliever or utility player that would round out the roster.
“Because a lot of the minor pieces, the supporting cast for a lack of a better phrase, was put together at the start of the season or in the off-season,” Williams said.
So did Williams really see himself in the position to add players at the end of July when the club was struggling in May?
“Yes, when we were down by 9½ [games] we thought we’d be up by 3½ today,” Williams said with a laugh. “Write that with sarcasm, please.”