The Washington Nationals have emerged as the favorite to sign free-agent Prince Fielder, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
While Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has downplayed speculation that the club might be interested in the All-Star first baseman, an MLB official told Journal Sentinel that Washington is currently the leading candidate for Fielder. At the moment, the Nationals have first baseman Adam LaRoche under contract for 2012, and team officials have publicly indicated that they intend to begin the season with him as their starter.
Fielder, who hit .299/.415/.566 with 38 home runs and 120 RBI in 162 games last year for the Milwaukee Brewers is considered one of the top sluggers on the free-agent market. The 27-year-old has been one of the more consistent players in the majors over the past several seasons. In 998 career games, he has amassed a .282 career batting average, 230 home runs and 656 RBIs.
Despite his track record of production, interest in Fielder has declined over the course of the last month. Teams such as the Texas Rangers, Florida Marlins, and Seattle Mariners, who were once rumored to be interested in Fielder, are reportedly now out of the bidding. It is believed the Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, and Chicago Cubs are the teams with the most interest in Fielder.