The multi-million dollar question is: Could Fielder be a Cub? He's reportedly seeking a 10-year contract similar in terms that Albert Pujols ($254 million) received from the Angels.
There were reports the Cubs were among the bidders for Fielder. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com have suggested the list of suitors includes the Cubs, Mariners, Blue Jays, Rangers and Dodgers. On Friday, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal said the bidding has come down to the Cubs and Mariners, but added his sources say the Cubs would offer a six- or seven-year deal.
The Cubs don't have much power in their lineup and could have an opening at first. Right now, they project Bryan LaHair, the Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player who led all of the Minor Leagues with 38 home runs last season at Triple-A Iowa, to start at first in Chicago.
Fielder, 27, is a career .282 hitter and has averaged 38 homers over the last six years. He boasts a career .298 average at Wrigley Field with 11 home runs and 15 doubles. LaHair, 29, has a .262 average and five homers in 195 Major League at-bats, with most of those coming in 2008 with the Mariners.
Crasnick cited league sources Thursday as saying the Cubs may be ready to step up their pursuit of Fielder. The catch could be not just the amount of money, but the length of contract.
The Cubs' major obligations payroll-wise beyond next season include $38 million for two more years to Alfonso Soriano and $9.8 million owed to Carlos Marmol in 2013. What Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is trying to avoid is more deals like Soriano's, which was an eight-year, $136 million package.
Epstein has said he prefers to pay for the future, not the past. At 27, Fielder would appear to have a lot of upside and would most likely thrive under Sveum, who was his hitting coach in Milwaukee.
"I think any team that wants to get better" will inquire on Fielder, his agent, Scott Boras, said in Dallas last week. "Whether they're a younger team or a veteran team or a team that wants to win now, there are not many teams not in need of a core player like this. There's a few that aren't, obviously, but most are certainly going to want to look into the situation."
Sveum, who has spent the past six seasons on the Brewers' staff, has made it known how much he respects Fielder.
"He's one of those special guys who comes around once in a while, once in a lifetime," Sveum said during the Winter Meetings. "He should've played the game in the 1950s and '60s and '70s when guys played every day, they played as hard as they possibly could every single day. They cared about winning, they cared about their teammates. Prince is all those things. He's one of those special guys."