The Brewers’ inability to trade first baseman Prince Fielder to the White Sox underscores the difficulty of moving Fielder in the current market.
The teams exchanged thoughts on Fielder before the White Sox reached an agreement with free agent Adam Dunn on Thursday. But the talks failed to advance beyond the exploratory stages, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.
The White Sox chose to sign Dunn for $56 million over four years and forfeit a high draft pick rather than give up the quality pitching the Brewers desired.
Few teams are deep in pitching, and the White Sox are approaching a critical stage; both left-hander Mark Buehrle and righty Edwin Jackson are free agents after next season.
Amid such uncertainty, it's difficult for the White Sox to trade a younger pitcher such as right-hander Gavin Floyd, who's signed to an affordable contract that could tie him to the club through 2013.
Market forces, then, are conspiring against the Brewers.
Pitching is scarce. The free-agent market is flush with first base/DH types, and Fielder’s contract is the baseball equivalent of a hot potato.
Fielder stands to earn a significant raise from $10.5 million in arbitration next season, then become a free agent. His agent, Scott Boras, rarely agrees to contract extensions, preferring his clients’ values to be established by the open market.
Thus, any team that gets Fielder likely will keep him for only one season, and few teams are willing to part with the pitching the Brewers would require.
Not a great dynamic for a trade.