Nats show interest in Fielder, Cespedes

All that talk about the Nationals not wanting free-agent first

baseman Prince Fielder?

Don’t believe it.

The Nationals are showing serious interest in Fielder and view

Cuban outfielder Yoennis Cespedes as a potential Plan B, according

to major-league sources.

Talks with Fielder hit a significant roadblock on Monday,

one source said, prompting the Nats to revisit Cespedes as an


Cespedes, 26, is not yet on the open market; he first must

establish temporary residence in the Dominican Republic, a

development that is expected any day now.

After that, he would petition Major League Baseball to become a

free agent. Approval is expected to come quickly, and the bidding

on him could begin next week at the winter meetings in Dallas.

Fielder, 27, is the Nationals’ primary target, at least

among offensive players, sources said. The Nats also are pursuing

high-end starting pitchers, including free agents C.J. Wilson, Mark

Buehrle and Roy Oswalt.

The situation is fluid on all fronts; the Cubs, Mariners and

Rangers are among the other clubs expected to be in the mix for

Fielder, and other teams figure to join them.

While some in the industry believe the Cubs will rebuild, their

new manager, former Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, enjoyed a

strong relationship with Fielder in Milwaukee.

For the Nationals, the addition of Fielder could further bolster

a lineup that figures to improve at some point next season with the

arrival of another Scott Boras client, outfielder Bryce Harper.

The Nats’ incumbent first baseman, Adam LaRoche, is coming

off surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator-cuff damage in his

left shoulder, but is expected to be ready for spring training.

LaRoche, 32, is owed $8 million next season, plus a $1 million

buyout on his $10 million club option for 2013.

Cespedes, meanwhile, could fill the Nationals’ void in

center field, enabling the Nats to stick with LaRoche at first and

Cespedes, Jayson Werth and Michael Morse in the outfield until

Harper is ready.

The Marlins and Red Sox are among numerous other clubs showing

strong interest in Cespedes, sources said.