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Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Does trade for Fielder make sense?

By Richard Durrett

John Kruk wrote as part of ESPN.com's Baseball Tonight Clubhouse segment that the Rangers should go after Prince Fielder. Part of Kruk's thoughts:
In addition to the prized slugger, the Rangers would have Vladimir Guerrero, Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz in the middle of their lineup. Plus, Cliff Lee now stands at the top of their rotation. Watch out Yankees! If Texas can get Fielder, it will be a serious problem for a lot of teams.

Certainly it's enticing to have a big bat like that in an already potent lineup, especially with the Rangers' lack of production at first base. Chris Davis has struggled since his return to the majors and Justin Smoak is no longer an option as he's in Seattle. A few things to consider about trading for Fielder:

* Fielder won't come cheap. The Brewers are going to want some top prospects and the Rangers have already parted with some in the Cliff Lee deal. They may not want to ship another package of them for Fielder. And that package would have to include another top-tier prospect like what the Mariners got in Smoak.

* Fielder has $11 million remaining on his contract this year and, according to this Yahoo! Sports report, could make around $16 million next season in arbitration. So any team that trades for him is committing lots of dollars. That's something the Rangers wouldn't be likely to do with the ownership situation still in flux.

* Fielder is a left-handed hitter, like Davis. The Rangers have talked about a right-handed hitting bench option at first base as a priority at the deadline and that may fit in more with a realistic salary option and trade package than Fielder. That way the right-handed bat could play against the tough lefties in place of Davis.

* To get Fielder, the Rangers may also have to pay a bit of a premium because they gave up most, if not all, of their wiggle room in their internal budget to get Cliff Lee. So the Brewers would have to pay most of the remaining 2010 salary for Fielder, which means they'd want a high return on prospects. (That's similar to what the Rangers did to get Bengie Molina, adding Michael Main in the deal so they could get the cash to pay Molina's salary).

I can't see the Rangers doing this, but they do have a strong system, so they could put together a competitive package. I think they fired their big bullet on Lee, though, and won't want to part with any more huge prospects now. Daniels worked too hard to build this system and I don't think he'll want to pay a high price at the deadline for another impact player.

What do you think? Is it realistic for the Rangers to trade for Fielder? What are you willing to give up for Fielder?