'Tis the season for wild speculation about free agents, and this year has been no exception. The common narrative around baseball this winter says the Brewers don't have enough money to retain Prince Fielder, but many of the same pundits somehow think they've got the financial resources available to pursue Jose Reyes.
A quick glance at the current payroll estimate shows a major obstacle in the plan to sign either player: Assuming the Brewers don't unload massive amounts of salary this winter, they only have about $10 million to spend to fill multiple spots on the roster. Neither Fielder or Reyes is likely to be lured in by that money.
Let's say for a moment, though, that something changed. What if Mark Attanasio came to you this morning and said the Brewers could sign one of those players, but made you choose? Which would you take?
Obviously, keeping Prince Fielder as a Brewer long term would have to be tempting. He's one of baseball's premier sluggers, and having him batting cleanup again next season would allow the Brewers to open 2012 with most of the same key parts from a team that won 96 games in 2011.
With that said, letting Fielder walk and signing Jose Reyes would give the Brewers a long term answer at a position that features nearly no organizational depth. Reyes isn't as durable as Fielder and he's a year older, but he could probably be penciled in for 500 games at shortstop over the next five seasons and would remove the possibility of another season with Yuniesky Betancourt out there.
Even in this fantasy scenario, though, cash is limited. You can open the checkbook for one player or the other, but not both. Which do you choose?