Owner Mark Attanasio was in Maryvale Saturday to speak to the team on the first day of full-squad workouts. Afterwards, he met with the media, and I'm assuming it didn't take long for the conversation to shift to the topic of Prince Fielder. While I'm sure we'll be sick of talking about Prince's contract by the end of the year, there were a few encouraging comments from the guy who signs the checks.
For one, any offer made to Fielder will not merely be symbolic. That's nice to hear, especially as one of the guys who felt that the $100 million offer to CC Sabathia was more a PR move than a "real" offer. Mark A. says that it was a real offer in that they were willing to pay him the nine figures they proposed, but in my mind -- and the mind of a lot of people -- it was an offer that was made knowing full well it wouldn't be accepted.
While I (still) don't necessarily buy the fact that the Sabathia offer was competitive, there was something else that Mark A. said today that I found to be encouraging: there's not going to be a deadline for a deal. Quoting the blog post from Anthony Witrado:
"Nobody wants that distraction," Attanasio said. "And frankly I think without having set deadlines or parameters, it better allows that because (if you have a deadline) you start checking days off the calendar and things like that.
From the team's perspective, I agree. It doesn't make sense to hold a gun to Fielder's head and say "sign this contract by the end of spring or we're not discussing this again until November." It takes two to tango, though, and let's not forget that Fielder and Scott Boras possibly could set a deadline of their own. Considering the past history of Boras clients, Fielder could easily say something like, "If I don't have a new contract by my contract year, I'm testing the market," effectively setting a deadline.
I continue to think that trading Fielder before he becomes a free agent would be the smarter move for the future of the franchise. But if the Brewers are truly committed to keeping him in town (even if it's just buying out a year or two of free agency), it's good to see that they're willing to discuss a deal at anytime -- it's just a matter of getting the other side to listen.