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Prince Fielder continues to wait for suitors to come forward

No news continues to be big news in the gradually emptying free-agent market. Prince Fielder’s “unemployment” is rapidly transitioning from curiosity to this offseason’s major storyline.A Scott Boras client did land a deal over the weekend. In fact, with the Mariners — who have consistently been in the background of the Fielder picture. Rather than the first baseman himself, though, it was veteran right-hander Kevin Millwood, who came to a Minor League agreement with Seattle that includes a Spring Training invitation.Other pitchers are likely to soon come off the board. The Red Sox created financial flexibility with a deal of infielder Marco Scutaro to the Rockies that shaved $6 million off their payroll. Most prominently, Roy Oswalt was immediately linked to Boston.The Red Sox are known to have also inquired on left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, who is on Houston’s trade counter. Rodriguez has won 36 games for the challenged Astros the past three seasons, with ERAs consistently in the mid-3.00s, but teams could be deterred by a $13 million option for 2013 that becomes his option in the event he is dealt.As for Fielder himself … the plot thickens.The latest twist brought some substance to a notion often raised in this space: That Boras is engaged in a stall-game, with hopes of yet being able to involve the Dodgers in the Fielder negotiations.The New York Post reported Sunday that numerous MLB executives expect the Dodgers to “ultimately be in play” for the free agent. The only prerequisite for that would appear to be some clarity in the sale of the team, which is currently in the process of being auctioned.Outgoing owner Frank McCourt could sign Fielder, with the tacit blessing of the club’s incoming owners. But even that may not be necessary, since McCourt approved an eight-year, $160 million contract for Matt Kemp in mid-November, when the upcoming sale of the franchise was already in the works.Then, there are the Rangers, A.D. — After Darvish.With Yu Darvish secured, Texas can turn its attention to Fielder, and to whether a practical union is possible. For that to happen, Fielder would have to bring his price down. The Rangers are also conflicted by having to decide whether to prioritize a long-term deal with Josh Hamilton, the 2010 American League MVP. That quandary was further complicated when one of the club’s owners — Bob Simpson — came out in favor of a Hamilton extension.The Nationals could still have the pole in the Fielder race. Spurred by owner Ted Lerner’s win-it-now mandate, general manager Mike Rizzo might not blanch at a price tag of about $25 million a year, but he is believed to be in favor of a ceiling of six years, compared to the eight-to-10 the player seeks.The unfortunate knee injury to Victor Martinez has invigorated the market for available DHs — even though the supply was diminished by one big bat when Carlos Pena returned to Tampa Bay on a one-year deal.The Tigers have begun to look around for a replacement for Martinez, who last season took 423 of Detroit’s 595 DH at-bats but blew out the ACL in his left knee during conditioning drills last week, likely a season-scratching injury.Johnny Damon has emerged as a possibility, a move that would mirror that of Pena, reuniting him with his 2010 club. The Tigers are believed to have also made inquiries on Vladimir Guerrero and Raul Ibanez.With Pena back in Tampa Bay, the Indians have shifted their first-base target to the guy who had taken his job with the Rays last year, Casey Kotchman.

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