No particulars of the negotiations between the team and Fielder's camp have yet become public, but one person familiar with the talks suggested the eight-year contracts of
Attanasio, who has previously locked up cleanup hitter
Attanasio and Fielder's agent,
"When you evaluate players at the major league level, those who have done certain things by age 25 are extraordinary, and two of those things are 40 home runs and 125 RBIs. You certainly can count the number of players who have done that,'' Boras said by phone. "Extraordinary performance at a young age gives you totally different career indices.''
The contracts of Mauer and Teixeira surely will come up in talks, but it's believed that Boras will likely try to draw comparisons between Fielder and all-time great power hitters Alex Rodriguez and
While Fielder's batting average doesn't quite measure up to that of either Rodriguez or certainly Pujols, the "extraordinary performance'' theory is an attempt to bring A-Rod and Pujols into the equation. Though Pujols is making just $16 million this year and next, people around the game put him in the category of a $30-million player considering Rodriguez's $30.5 million salary ($27.5 million plus $3 million for attainable home run plateaus) and presume he'll be making about that much in his next contract. While Fielder wouldn't expect to have the salary of Rodriguez or Pujols, that's the company he'd like to keep.
Statistically and otherwise, Fielder, still just 25, is undeniably a special slugger. He had 46 home runs, 141 RBIs and a. 299 batting average in 2009 to finish in the top five in MVP voting a second time, despite the Brewers' also-ran finish.
But while Fielder had 115 more career home runs than Mauer following the year they turned 25 (160 homers to 45), a pretty good case could be made that Mauer is the better all-around player since he's a catcher who's a three-time batting champion and a league MVP. Mauer was also a year closer to free agency when he signed for $184 million over eight years -- though, it could be countered, too, that while Mauer signed a very nice contract he would have easily surpassed $200 million had he been willing to leave his hometown Twin Cities as a free agent.
First base isn't considered a "premium'' position, either, and Fielder's free agent class could be unprecedented in terms of talent at one position (Pujols,
Attanasio did well to sign Braun a few years back for a deal that guarantees him $45 million over eight years and Gallardo last week for $30.1 million over five. Braun showed by signing so soon that he much preferred to remain a Brewer, and he has expressed no regrets about leaving millions on the table. Gallardo isn't the established star that Braun and Fielder are. Plus, there are more risks inherent for pitchers, further explaining his lower salary.
"I think he's a pretty unheralded pitcher,'' Attanasio said of Gallardo. "That was very good. But it's a challenge. We have a wonderful group of homegrown guys, and we're trying to keep as many as we can.''
Fielder, the biggest star of the bunch, is beloved by Brewers people, including manager
Fielder's youth doesn't mean he disregards the business side of baseball, and his decision to hire Boras suggests to some that he may be looking for contract over comfort. So it's no wonder many around baseball believe Attanasio is being too hopeful to think he has a realistic chance to keep Fielder. Attanasio once expressed some hope that he had a real shot at retaining star pitcher
Judging by the reluctance of Attanasio and Boras to comment, it's clear this has become a super-sensitive topic to all. The two Southern California residents were hoping to keep their talks entirely a secret, even though Attanasio had made known this winter his intention to try to lock up Fielder. But the
More recently, Attanasio seemed to express a bit of frustration about the talks in
Attanasio suggested in a phone interview with SI that his remark was only intended as a light aside that seemed to become much bigger in the article, and remarked that he likes Levine very much. "The Yankees do pay money. We certainly get money in revenue sharing,'' Attanasio said. Levine, for his part, said in a subsequent phone conversation that he sniffed out a hint of Attanasio's Yankees sentiment and warned him that he'd have to take him down if he expressed it publicly, which is what he did. Levine also said he likes Attanasio very much.
Boras expressed his affection for Attanasio, as well. But Attanasio's popularity isn't at issue here, and there's real doubt as to whether he will meet Fielder's price under the constraints of the small-market Brewers' financial situation. While their financial condition has improved dramatically with their attendance increasing to more than three million each of the last two years and revenues said by
Attanasio also said when he told his partners they'd be losing a few million bucks this year, they asked him, "In what kind of business do you project a loss?'' And he said he responded, "The baseball business.''
It might be easier making money if he owned the storied Dodgers instead, but Attanasio immediately dismissed any notion he might skip from the Brewers to buy the Dodgers from the bickering McCourts in his adopted hometown (the Bronx native lives in Beverly Hills). Attanasio said in our phone conversation that he is committed to the Brewers, and apparently has said the same thing to others who've inquired.
Attanasio has been a savior in a small town. But to expect the same sort of Brewer-first feeling from a superstar player who is less than two years from free agency might be somewhat optimistic.
Some teams that could become
• The Diamondbacks are believed to be one of the teams looking at free-agent pitcher
• Mets manager
• Rangers manager
• Target Field opens today with the Red Sox visiting the Twins. All early reviews are positive. But it's not likely to match the Homerdome as a home-field advantage for the Twins.
• Mariners center fielder
• Teixeira said he thinks
• Reds rookie pitcher
• Creditors are still balking over
• The 0-6 Astros, as bad as they may be, are no threat to the 1988 Orioles, which set a major league record for consecutive losses at the start of the season by going 0-21.