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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

January 24, 2012 at 10:34 AM

M’s deal with Millwood now official; Fielder sweepstakes nearing an end?

millwoodnono.jpg

(Kevin Millwood, left, then with the Phillies, celebrates with Jim Thome after completing a no-hitter against the Giants on April 27, 2003. Photo by Associated Press).

John Sickel of Minor League Ball has put out his rankings of farm systems, and the Mariners are No. 4 — the highest I’ve ever seen them in these kind of lists. His comment: “Jesus Montero plus three elite pitching prospects and others who can improve.”

Update 11:55 p.m.: There’s a pretty shocking development, from Tim Brown of Yahoo, who just tweeted that Prince Fielder is very close to a nine-year deal with,…drum roll…the Detroit Tigers. The Scott Boras mystery team lives!

His sister let the cat out of the bag on Sunday via Facebook (gotta love modern journalism), and the Mariners made it official today: Kevin Millwood has signed a minor-league contract with Seattle and will receive a spring-training invitation.

I’d say Millwood has a strong chance of making the Mariners’ rotation coming out of spring training, as a bridge to youngsters like Danny Hultzen and James Paxton, who will compete for a job but most likely need more minor-league seasoning. Associated Press reports that Millwood, 37, will get a $1 million salary if he makes the 40-man roster, with the possibility for an additional $750,000 in performance bonuses.

Here’s Jack Zduriencik’s quote from the press release: “Kevin brings a great deal of experience as a veteran pitcher and will compete for a spot in our starting rotation. His leadership and experience will be a benefit for our young pitchers and we look forward to seeing him in spring training.”

And if you’re interested, here’s my story from Monday’s paper that has Millwood’s background.

Now, on to Prince Fielder. Bob Nightengale of USA Today has a new story with two very important bits of information:

One is that the Rangers “believe they are out of the bidding” for Fielder; the second is that a source told Nightengale that “talks were accelerating and could conclude today.”

It’s kind of weird to think that Fielder might actually sign somewhere as soon as today; we’ve all spent so much time speculating about where he was going to land. But it has to end sometime, right? Please? Pretty please?

By most accounts, the Washington Nationals now move to the forefront, but I won’t believe any team is out of it until they’re truly out of it. This is the prime time for posturing, bluff-calling and 11th-hour swooping in to make a deal.

I have heard nothing to suggest the Mariners are heavily involved at this point. If they are, they’re being very stealthy about it. But that’s how they operate. I’ll keep digging. If they don’t land Fielder, they have to at least be happy if the Rangers don’t, either.

Here’s a roundup of the latest Fielder rumors, which include mentions of the Orioles, Dodgers and even the Tigers in a one-year scenario. If there’s the classic Scott Boras “surprise team” lurking, now’s about the time for them to reveal themselves.

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