Will the Brewers trade Prince Fielder at the trade deadline?

Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder eyes a pitch against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 18, 2010 in Denver. Colorado beat Milwaukee 2-0.         UPI/Gary C. Caskey Photo via Newscom

The Brewers seemingly have two options when it comes to Prince Fielder: trade him now, or trade him later. Either way, they’re going to have to trade him at some point because Scott Boras is going to make sure that in a year and a half, Fielder is richer than Bill Gates’ personnel chef.

Fielder signed a two-year, $18 million contract extension with the Brewers in January of last year. Only $4.34 million remains on that contract through the end of the season and then Fielder becomes arbitration-eligible for the 2011 season. After making another $15-16 million in arbitration next year, Boras will ensure that the slugger makes $100 million once he hits free agency in 2012.

A bidding war over a home run commodity like Fielder isn’t something the small market Brewers are prepared for. They could break the bank in hopes of re-signing the slugger, but the more likely scenario is that GM Doug Melvin will seek a top-pitching prospect in a trade for Fielder now or in the offseason.

If Melvin waits, he’ll probably have more suitors interested in the first baseman. But if he trades him at the deadline this year, he might find a desperate general manager who is willing to give up a top arm in order to acquire a slugger for the stretch run.

There are several teams that could be interested in Fielder’s services, although you could make an argument for and against every one of them. The Brewers scouted White Sox pitcher Daniel Hudson on Monday night, but it’s doubtful that he could be the centerpiece in a deal for Fielder. At least not when the Rays (Jeremy Hellickson and Wade Davis) and Giants (Madison Bumgarner and Zach Wheeler) have more highly touted arms and could be interested in Fielder as well.

The Angels are another interesting trade suitor for the Brewers, although with Kendry Morales set to return for the 2011 season, it’s highly doubtful that the Halos would try to acquire Fielder this season. Thus, the top three teams at this point would probably be the Sox, Rays and Giants. (Although you can never count out teams like the Mets or Dodgers either.)

The Giants are an interesting case because they appear to be the best fit for both Fielder and Melvin. They have no shortage of arms at every level and they could obviously use another bat to go along with Buster Posey, Aubrey Huff and Pablo Sandoval (who has recently started to look like the hitter he was in ‘09) in the middle of their lineup. We also know that Melvin likes Bumgarner, Jonathan Sanchez and Matt Cain, so if Giants’ GM Brian Sabean put together an attractive enough package, he could probably acquire Fielder by the end of the month.

That said, Sabean would more than likely be reluctant to part with Bumgarner, Cain or even Wheeler. Sanchez has been on the trade block before, but he alone couldn’t swing a deal for Fielder and thanks to Sabean, the Giants are woefully short on position talent in their farm system. Therefore, they probably couldn’t put together a package built around Sanchez that would entice the Brewers enough to part with Fielder.

So it becomes a waiting game with Fielder in Milwaukee. These next couple of weeks should be interesting.

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