Trying to decipher fact from fiction in the ongoing Prince Fielder saga is like trying to drink coffee with a fork. You can certainly try, but your chances for success are minimal.
As each day this month passes, it becomes more and more difficult to figure out what exactly is going on in Fielder's quest to sign with some major-league club. The handful of people actually in the know are saying very little -- if anything at all -- leaving the rumor mill to sustain itself through all manner of reports ... some of them legitimate, many of them not.
The saga reached perhaps a new low point late Sunday night, when two obscure Twitter users posted fairly emphatic reports about Fielder having signed -- except one report said he had signed with the Nationals while the other claimed he had signed with the Rangers. That set off a chain of retweets and unsubstantiated rumor spreading, including from a handful of professional journalists who never bothered to check the validity of either report before passing it along as fact.
In the end, of course, neither report was accurate. As of this afternoon, Fielder remains unsigned, and no reputable baseball reporter has offered any substantial new information to suggest a deal has been reached with anyone.
That said, it does appear we're inching ever so slowly toward a resolution to this matter at long last. A handful of clubs have been identified by multiple reporters as contenders to acquire Fielder, including the Nationals, Rangers and possibly the Dodgers and Orioles.
No one is suggesting a final decision has been made, and Nationals sources continue to insist nothing has changed from their perspective. But we've probably reached the final leg of this unprecedented ordeal. At this point, agent Scott Boras is merely trying to milk whatever few dollars more he can get out of the contending clubs, trying to play them off each other. Soon enough, those offers will be final and Fielder will have to make his choice.
No free agent has ever gone this deep into the off-season before signing a nine-figure contract. Fielder will be the first to do that. But he probably won't make everyone wait too much longer. Which means we won't be subjected to these wild (and usually unreliable) rumors anymore, a fact reporters and fans alike will certainly appreciate.