Brewers weighing Prince Fielder options

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Brewers are considering what approach to take as star slugger Prince Fielder tests the free agent market. With or without him, they want to be a force again in the NL Central.

General manager Doug Melvin has plans for both scenarios. He says the Brewers, who won the division title in 2011, are balancing the finances of Fielder's potential salary versus filling holes for 2012.

Melvin and Brewers owner Mark Attanasio met with Fielder's agent, Scott Boras, on Tuesday at the general managers meeting.

"Obviously, the budget will change if we can keep Prince Fielder. That has to be an opportunity-driven budget," Attanasio said Wednesday. "For the same reason, Doug has been meeting with some premium free agents, and if it's the right fit for our club, then we'll make a move. But we're not going to fill the payroll just for the sake of filling payroll."

The 27-year-old Fielder and St. Louis star Albert Pujols are the biggest names in the free agent market this season. Fielder, teaming with left fielder Ryan Braun, who signed a five-year, $105 million extension in April, helped the Brewers win the division title and advance to the league championship series.

"We think we can compete even if we aren't able to get Prince back," Attanasio said. "There are potential free agents but for right now, we want to leave that spot open for Prince."

Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told the St. Louis Post Dispatch Wednesday that St. Louis would not, in a potential scenario, pursue Fielder to replace Pujols. Mozeliak said the Cardinals would be more likely to sign Pujols to a large contract because of what he's meant to the organization.

"From a strategic standpoint I don't think we need to divorce ourselves from that or to try to simply ignore it," Mozeliak told the Dispatch. "The facts are he's an iconic player and he's been the face of this organization for a long time. To deny that or to fail to recognize it, I don't think you're looking at it through the proper set of lenses."

Owners, who arrived Wednesday, and general managers were to finish their meetings Thursday.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.