Red Sox Taking Aim at Prince Fielder This Offseason?

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Red Sox Taking Aim at Prince Fielder This Offseason? Apparently, the Red Sox are going to land Prince Fielder this offseason.

So says Buster Olney, who calls it "pure speculation," but contends that "Fielder could be playing for the Red Sox next season."

Why, you ask? Well, it actually makes a fair amount of sense on the Brewers' side of things to get what they can for the slugging, 25-year-old first baseman before he becomes a free agent following the 2011 season.

ESPN.com's Keith Law suggests that after making the playoffs last season riding the left arm of ace CC Sabathia, the Brewers came into 2009 hoping to contend in the wide-open NL Central (despite having lost Sabathia to the Yankees via free agency). But their pitching staff hasn't lived up to expectations and several everyday players — Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy and the recently traded Bill Hall among them — have come back to earth after career years. Milwaukee now sits fourth in its division, 15 games back of the first-place Cardinals.

And it's now up to GM Doug Melvin to decide whether it makes sense to make one more push for the postseason next year or start rebuilding the roster in a more economical fashion. "From my perspective," Law says, "it looks like tearing it down makes a lot more sense than propping it up."

What would it take to get the Brewers to dump Fielder in a trade? Premium young pitching, says Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Something tells me the Brewers might be able to find something to their liking in the Red Sox' rich farm system.

Of course, it's still unclear whether Fielder is the one the Milwaukee brass would favor jettisoning as the Brewers rebuild, but his $6.5 million salary this year and the $10.5 million he's owed for 2010 will certainly weigh heavily on the relatively small-market organization. Especially if they're out of the pennant race by July.

But those figures are unlikely to scare off a franchise like the Red Sox. Heck, GM Theo Epstein is already paying nearly that much this season for Julio Lugo.

In fact, the numbers the Sox would be more interested in are Fielder's averages of .283, 38 homers and 107 RBIs over the last four seasons. Who's to say the lefty bopper couldn't reapproach his career high of 50 homers if he's aiming at Pesky's Pole 81 games a year.

Yes, the 2009 All-Star Home Run Derby winner is a generously proportioned 270 pounds, give or take, but he's surprisingly agile in the field. He has made only six errors at first this season and owns a career fielding percentage of .991.

This brings up another potential issue. Where would Fielder fit in on an already playoff-bound Red Sox roster?

Well, Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell are nearing the ends of their terrific careers. So it's not outrageous to suggest that if they're around in 2010, they're likely to be occupying less prominent roles than they are this season. So, with those spots somewhat opened up, Victor Martinez could become the everyday catcher, and Kevin Youkilis could be shifted over to third base, where he's made just three errors in 52 games this year. David Ortiz could remain the Sox' regular designated hitter.

First base? Seems like an appropriately large opening for Mr. Fielder.

To be sure, there's a lot of baseball left to be played before Theo and the Boston decision-makers start dipping their toes into the offseason hot-stove waters. But regardless of how the rest of 2009 goes for the Red Sox, the possibilities of 2010 and beyond are pretty exciting to think about.

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