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Brewers considering options with Fielder

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers are considering their options while 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 offseason. 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."

While Milwaukee was examining possible approaches should Fielder leave, the Red Sox and Cubs were trying to decide on a new manager. Boston owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner had lunch with Dale Sveum, who has met with both teams in Milwaukee.

"We had a good lunch," Werner said after returning to a downtown Milwaukee hotel with Henry. He said the search hasn't reached its conclusion. "We're going to continue our discussions," he added.

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said his team was wrapping up the search and had contacted some of the candidates again. Sveum, Mike Maddux, Sandy Alomar Jr., and Pete Mackanin got in-person interviews and DeMarlo Hale had a phone interview.

Owners, who arrived Wednesday, and general managers were to finish their meetings today. And owners were expected to approve the sale of the Houston Astros from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane. McLane bought the team in November 1992 for about $117 million.

Major League Baseball told Crane it wouldn't approve his purchase of the Astros unless he agreed to move the team to the American League, a person familiar with the negotiations told the The Associated Press.

Crane reportedly agreed to the move in exchange for a drop in the sales price valued earlier this year at $680 million. The person who spoke to the AP couldn't confirm the sales price.

"We'll let baseball talk about that. There were a lot of adjustments, so we'll just wait and see what they have to say (today)," McLane said Wednesday night.

McLane said he's leaving with mixed emotions, something that hit him as he attended a meeting with other owners Wednesday.

"Last night when I went to bed, I thought about it. I can remember 19 years ago how elated I was. It's been a wonderful, wonderful ride," he said.

"Each of these owners have been my friends for 19 years. One of the strange things is, I'm one of the older owners right now," McLane said. "There's only seven or eight that have been here longer than I have. Been a world of turnover."