The Prince Fielder imbroglio is pretty funny when you think of it as a player saying, "Gee. I'm not sure if the Brewers are going to spend $120 million or more to have me play for them." Of course they're not. The timing was bad, but, well, that's a shame. It was one of the more obvious statements a pending free agent could make. When the Brewers signed Ryan Braun to a 10-year extension, they might as well have sent a candygram to Fielder's house with a note that read, "Sorry! We chose him!"
The Brewers aren't a team you'd expect to throw around $100 million contracts, and they already have one of them. It's an unlikely place for Fielder to wind up in 2012, whether he admits it, hints at it, or really wants to stay in Milwaukee.
When you look at the teams that might want Fielder, though, you have to wonder where he might go. Here are the teams that are almost certainly out on him:
The first group is the important one. It's hard to imagine even the Yankees or Red Sox paying hundreds of millions for a DH, and the Phillies are definitely out. That leaves 15 teams that could, possibly, if you squint, be in the market for one of the two $100M+ first basemen. That list of 15 include teams that you can pretty much dismiss out of hand, too -- the Indians, Orioles, Blue Jays, and Marlins probably aren't going to be involved in the chase. The Giants have two first basemen, one cup, and a managing general partner who was just deposed for spending money without permission. The Rockies and Prince Fielder would be an amazing, horrifying combination, but they're just getting out from under a huge contract to a first baseman that didn't work out like they had hoped.
The point of this isn't to isolate exactly who is in the market for Fielder -- it's to whittle down the possibilities and see who's standing. The more you dig, and the more you eliminate the possibilities, the more you realize that the Brewers aren't one of the teams you can automatically dismiss. They've committed the GSP of Wisconsin to Braun, so it's not likely they'll do another $100 million contract. But they'll hang around, at the very least. Fielder might be surprised to find out there aren't a lot of teams who can afford what a 28-year-old superstar slugger expects, and the usual big-spending teams probably aren't interested.
Is it a good idea for the Brewers to lock up Fielder and Braun? That's another, longer article. The team draws well, but they aren't exactly cable-deal billionaires. Plus, there's a fantastic chance that Braun isn't going to stay in the outfield into his mid-30s, and it's not like Fielder can play shortstop if Braun has to move to first. But if the Brewers decide that it's possible, and that the goodwill of keeping the band together can achieve tangible box-office results, they just might have a decent shot. Don't order that Mat Gamel jersey just yet.
No, seriously, I'd hold off on that for a couple of reasons.