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Nationals unlikely to sign Prince at current price

Nationals unlikely to sign Prince at current price

Nationals unlikely to sign Prince at current price
WASHINGTON -- There is a "99 percent" chance that the Nationals will not sign free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder, according to a baseball source.

Even though principal owners Ted and Mark Lerner met with Scott Boras, Fielder's agent, on Wednesday at the Owners Meetings in Paradise Valley, Ariz., according to the The Washington Post, the source indicated that Fielder's price must come down in order for the team to consider acquiring his services. The Nats are not willing to give Fielder anything close to the 10-year, $240 million contract the Angels gave first baseman Albert Pujols.

There is also a concern about the physical condition of Fielder, who is listed at 275 pounds. There are members of the team's front office who believe Fielder will essentially be a designated hitter within a few years.

With Fielder more than likely not coming to Washington, Adam LaRoche will be the everyday first baseman, backed up by Mark DeRosa. Last Spring Training, LaRoche was diagnosed with a torn labrum and rotator cuff. He played in only 43 games, hitting .172 with three home runs and 15 RBIs.

During LaRoche's absence, Mike Morse -- and later, Chris Marrero -- emerged at first base. LaRoche said in October that the Nationals didn't promise he would play first base every day in 2012. LaRoche is set to make $8 million in the second year of a two-year deal, with a mutual option for '13.

In other news, right-hander Stephen Strasburg more than likely will be able to pitch 160 innings for the Nats, according to a baseball source. Strasburg, who missed most of this past season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, will likely have the same routine that teammate Jordan Zimmermann had after returning from the same procedure.

Zimmermann, who was clearly the team's best starter in 2011, pitched 160 1/3 innings, going 8-11 with a 3.18 ERA.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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