ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers co-chairman Bob Simpson's comments Friday don't mean the club is out of the Prince Fielder sweepstakes. He, like GM Jon Daniels on Wednesday, called it "unlikely." But he didn't slam any doors shut, either.
Simpson, like Nolan Ryan this week, suggested that the current price tag is too high.
"If that were to change, I guess they'd look at it harder," Simpson said. "Right now he's priced himself out of what we could do."
If Fielder wants to play in Texas, it's time to get creative. What about a short-term deal with some opt-outs for Fielder (and maybe the club) that gives him a chance to put up some monster numbers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and then explore the free agent market again if he chooses?
We know from past deals that the Rangers' front office is a creative bunch. There's no question Scott Boras, Fielder's agent, is too. If the 8- or 10-year deal isn't there for Fielder, what about a 5- or 6-year deal that maybe includes the chance for Fielder to get out of the contract after three or four years (and maybe have part of that contract backloaded or some other moves made to fit him into the budget)? That would give him time to use that left-handed bat Arlington and pile up statistics that could then yield a bigger contract.
Fielder turns 28 in early May. He has stayed healthy in his career, playing at least 157 games per season in his six full seasons in Milwaukee. He's got a career .282 average with at least 28 homers per season (32 or more in his last five seasons, including 50 in 2007 and 46 in 2009). Think of the numbers he could put up in Arlington (maybe Yu Darvish wouldn't want that fence moved back after all if Fielder joins another power lefty, Josh Hamilton, in the Rangers' lineup).
Yes, even a shorter-term deal might impact the club's ability to sign Hamilton. And Simpson stated his personal preference for Hamilton over Fielder. But he acknowledged that was his opinion and that it would be something discussed as a group if it came to that. Simpson's management style is to trust his baseball folks. Yu Darvish isn't a Ranger if he (and co-chairman Ray Davis, not to mention the other owners) don't trust Jon Daniels and his staff.
So let's see what happens. If the Albert Pujols-type deal isn't there right now, why wouldn't Fielder want to try to work something out with the two-time AL champions and one of the favorites to get back to a third straight World Series? And by the way, Pujols just turned 32 and got a 10-year deal. If Fielder put up solid numbers the next four seasons, maybe he could get a similar deal. Stay tuned. We've learned with the Rangers that they check into everything and look at every option to improve the club.