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Friday, December 16, 2011
Dale Sveum: No Prince Fielder talks

By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com

Manager Dale Sveum said talk of the Chicago Cubs' pursuit of free agent slugger Prince Fielder has been overblown.

"At this point it's a lot of media talk," Sveum said Friday when he officially announced his first coaching staff as Cubs manager. "We haven't had any talks with Prince. I haven't had any conversations. Again it's a lot of media talk."

However, the Cubs remain involved in conversations with Fielder's agent Scott Boras, a source familiar with the situation told ESPNChicago.com.

Boras has said he is seeking a minimum of seven years for any Fielder contract, but that was before Albert Pujols, who is four years older than Fielder, signed a 10-year, $254 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels.

It's possible Boras may be looking at a shorter deal for Fielder that may have an opt-out clause much like the one pitcher CC Sabathia used to opt out of his long-term contract with the New York Yankees before re-negotiating a new deal this offseason.

Boras may also be looking for the highest annual average salary in baseball history regardless of the length of the contract. Pujols' new average is $25.4 million per year. The previous high was another Boras client, Alex Rodriguez at $25 million per season on a 10-year contract. A shorter deal for Fielder, who is only 27 years old, likely would still make him desirable at age 31 or 32 if there was a built-in opt out clause for him and his team.

Fielder batted .299 with 38 home runs and 120 RBIs in helping the Brewers win the NL Central this season. The 27-year-old first baseman has five 30-homer seasons in his six-year career and has driven in 100 runs in each of the past three seasons.

If Fielder chooses to sign with the Cubs, he will have plenty of fellow former Brewers in his dugout. Sveum, Fielders' hitting coach the past three seasons, introduced former Brewer Chris Bosio as pitching coach, joining incumbent Cubs coach Pat Listach, the 1992 AL Rookie of the Year with Milwaukee.

Bosio was named Brewers advance scout following the 2009 season, and took over as pitching coach of Milwaukee's Triple-A team last season.

Bosio will have some work to do. Under Mark Riggins' one year as pitching coach, the Cubs were 25th in the majors with a 4.33 ERA and first in walks allowed, with 580.

Dave McKay, who was the Cardinals' first-base coach for 16 seasons, will take the same position with the Cubs. The 61-year-old was also a coach with Tony La Russa in Oakland and has been part of three world championships.

Another expected move is Jamie Quirk getting the bench coach job. He has 18 years of major league coaching experience, most recently as bullpen coach with Houston last season.

Listach, last season's bench coach, moves over to coach third base. He coached third for the Nationals in 2009 and 2010.

Rudy Jaramillo, who was still under contract, remains the hitting coach. This will be the third season for the 61-year-old with the Cubs. Bullpen coach Lester Strode also keeps his spot from last season.

The team announced that Mike Borzello will instruct the catchers and be involved in advance scouting, and Franklin Font will assist Jaramillo.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.