MLB.com Has Dueling Views On The Rangers And Prince Fielder

Within a couple of hours, two new stories from MLB.com writers hit my news reader. The first, from Richard Justice (yes, he's writing for MLB now), made the argument that is becoming popular among Rangers fans - Prince Fielder is a much better investment than Josh Hamilton. The second, from the site's Rangers beat guy TR Sullivan, reports that if Texas does sign Yu Darvish in the next two days they don't expect to sign Fielder in addition.

If the Rangers get Darvish's deal done as expected, they are not expecting to sign free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder. The Rangers met with Fielder and his agent Scott Boras on Friday in Dallas in what was described as a "preliminary meeting."

The Rangers were willing to meet with Fielder because they wanted to have a backup plan in place in case a deal with Darvish did not get done. There is still a remote possibility that negotiations with Darvish fall through. In that case, Texas might turn its attention to Fielder.

But club officials continued to stress that the Rangers don't plan on signing both Darvish and Fielder. The team has made it clear that its focus is on pitching, and it expects to sign Darvish by Wednesday.

Here's my take on all of this:

1. I do think that Texas will sign Darvish.
2. It's reasonable to say that Hamilton and Fielder are more mutually exclusive than Darvish and Fielder.
3. The Rangers have not closed the book internally on Fielder, even if they do sign Darvish (and even though Jon Daniels wants everyone to think they have).
4. Even so, it's very unlikely that they would be able to sign both.

All along the Rangers have been lurkers in the Fielder chase, hoping to wait in the dark for bidders to fall out like they did a year ago for Adrian Beltre. If that one team never materialized and if the final price were to dip low enough, they would consider pouncing.

The problem is, it's not going to dip that far. Whatever the Cubs, Marlins or Yankees do, the Nationals figure to be there to provide Scott Boras with the right kind of offer. If you're going to bother to be a Boras client, you'd better be ready to go where the money is - that's how his process works.

If the Rangers knew that they could have either Hamilton or Fielder for six years and $110 million or so, they'd be fools to not pick Fielder. It appears that he's going to get more than that, though, and from someone other than the Rangers.

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