Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in a little more than a month and Prince Fielder still has not signed a free agent deal with any MLB team. Some Milwaukee Brewers‘ fans are hoping that as long as teams drop out of the Fielder sweepstakes and he remains on the open market, there is a glimmer of hope that he might return to Milwaukee even if it is just for a one-year deal. However, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said Monday night that Fielder will not be a Brewer next season and that the team is still awaiting word on Ryan Braun‘s suspension.
“I don’t see how where we can do that,” Melvin said of possibly re-signing Prince this late in the off-season. “We’ve had to move on. We wouldn’t have been able to wait this long to try and put the team together. There were too many opportunities to get other players like Aramis Ramirez for example, or Frankie Rodriguez coming back and accepting our arbitration proposal. We had to move on, other players’ salaries were increased. We’re well beyond where our budget was supposed to be in November. We’ve already had to re-adjust our budget so I don’t see that opportunity.”
Melvin did admit that he was surprised that Prince has yet to ink a contract yet. “I just think it might not be the best year. Sometimes there’s good years to go out as free agents, sometimes maybe not as good of years. He’s a very talented player. He did wonders for our organization and the city. I’m sure he’ll get signed somewhere and get the opportunity to help that franchise take it to the next level.”
Melvin also mentioned the possibility that Corey Hart could see some time at first base to fill in for Mat Gamel who is expected to replace Prince.
Fielder might not be the only big bat in the Brewers’ line-up next season. Ryan Braun is awaiting his trial after being suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive for a banned performance enhancing drug. Melvin remains in limbo about the situation but says the team will be prepared if Braun’s suspension is upheld.
“We really don’t know much about it,” Melvin stated. “The first time I heard about it, I was driving from Chicago and got a phone call that ESPN had breaking news. I was completely shocked and totally caught blindsided with it. We just have to wait and see. I don’t think anybody can be found guilty until the hearing and I’m not sure the date of that either. In the meantime, you have to be prepared in case that happens and I guess at that point, you treat it like a player who’s injured for so many days.”Follow paulmbanks