PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder will sign a contract before the first pitch of the spring, his agent said on Wednesday."Certainly we're going to have him signed well in advance of Spring Training," said Scott Boras, who was at the Owners Meetings on Wednesday to discuss contracts for his various clients. "I can't give you the exact date. These things take some time. That's why we have January and early February. Spring Training doesn't start until late February." Fielder is the highest-profile free agent left on the market, and Boras certainly has a history of taking things down to the wire. In 2009, Boras negotiated with the Dodgers for Manny Ramirez well into Spring Training. The Dodgers didn't sign the then-free-agent left fielder until March 4. This year, camps don't open until the week of Feb. 20. Boras said, though, that he doesn't expect to have the same problem with Fielder, who has been linked with the Nationals, Marlins and Mariners. "A March signing?" Boras said. "I think we'll be able to have some things done before that." Boras wouldn't specify which clubs he spoke to on Wednesday, although one report said he met with Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner in regard to pitcher Edwin Jackson, and another said he met with Nationals principal owners Ted and Mark Lerner about Fielder.
During the course of a short walk in the parking lot to the front entrance of the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain resort, Boras had casual conversations with Mark Lerner and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.Fielder is a .288 lifetime hitter with 230 homers and .920 OPS to show for his seven big league seasons, all with the Brewers. "We're just moving through the process," Boras said about the Fielder talks. "It's just one that takes some time. You've got to meet with owners. You've got to sit down and talk with them about their needs. He needs to know where they're headed. He's going to be there a long time, wherever he's going. So we need to get that information to him and evaluate it."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.