Well I'm glad that's over with.
Every credible source I've spoken with says it came down to the Nationals and the Tigers in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes. In the end, Detroit's willingness to make it a nine year deal put them across the finish line. Mike Rizzo's reluctance to give Fielder - or almost anyone, really - that length of contract says a lot about Washington's general manager, and it's all positive.
Sure, Fielder is 27, and likely just entering his prime. But the length of a player's prime years varies by individual, and in normal circumstances - sans chemical engineering - that prime concludes by age 32 or 33. If that happens with Prince, the Tigers are still on the hook for at least three more seasons.
Would the Nationals have gone beyond six years for Fielder? The Jayson Werth contract notwithstanding, I tend to doubt it. Plus, they have a first baseman in Adam LaRoche, who's a far more accomplished defender than Fielder, and will be super-motivated this year in the final year of his contract. LaRoche, for whom the word "taciturn" seems appropriate, is apparently anxious to prove that last year's injury-plagued campaign was just one of those things, and that he's still a guy who will deliver 25 home runs and 90 RBIs as he's done in years past.
I wouldn't rule out another move or two before spring training, but nothing earth-shattering. Another bench player, perhaps - I really thought Wilson Betemit would've been a good fit, but he'll get a lot more playing time in Baltimore - and maybe another spare outfielder. As presently constituted, I think this is an 85-plus win team, though you really need to get closer to 90 victories to be a legitimate contender.
With Fielder off the market, we can now worry about whether the Astros will change their nickname - their new owner is thinking about it - and how much someone is willing to gamble that Yoenis Cespedes can step right into a major league lineup.
The embers may have cooled a bit, but the stove's still hot.