The Many Suitors of Prince Fielder

Last week, Prince Fielder explicitly stated what has been implicitly known for months: this year is probably his last in Milwaukee.

And he’s certainly making the most of it (*avoids cheap fat joke*): 33 homers, 110 RBI, and a .957 OPS. Not his best year, but plenty good enough to ensure that he’ll be paid handsomely when he does indeed leave Milwaukee at the end of the season.

But where will he go? For a number of months, it seemed like the most likely destination was to our own Chicago Cubs. But, with the ever-diminishing returns on the field for the Cubs, and the front office turnover, nobody can claim with any measure of certainty that the Cubs will be in the Fielder mix. Or out of it. We just don’t know.

Setting aside the Cubs, many of the other usual suspects – the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies – are set at first base. Whether the former two would be willing to pony up nine figures for a DH remains to be seen. The Yankees, after all, have done it before.

Beyond those four teams, Tom Hadricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel discussed the possible suitors for Fielder’s services in 2012 and beyond.

You have to think the Seattle Mariners would be interested. General manager Jack Zduriencik was the Brewers’ amateur scouting director when they drafted Fielder and loves him. The Mariners also are extremely challenged offensively and probably would move young first baseman Justin Smoak to make room for Fielder.

Don’t count out the Texas Rangers, either. They love offense, play in a home-run ballpark and have Mitch Moreland at first base.

Another possibility is Washington. The Nationals already have shown they will irrationally throw money against the wall by giving free agent Jayson Werth a seven-year, $126 million deal last winter. Washington has a chance to be good in the coming years and a bat like Fielder would help them close ground on Philadelphia and Atlanta in the NL East.

Under normal circumstances, the Los Angeles Dodgers would seem to be a possible destination for Fielder. James Loney has become a disappointment at first base, but with owner Frank McCourt in financial straights and in litigation with MLB over keeping the club, it would seem the timing is not right for a big move like this.

Some folks have wondered if Florida might be intrigued by Fielder. Moving to a new ballpark next year, the renamed Miami Marlins might finally turn loose their purse strings and boost their payroll. Fielder lives in Florida, but the Marlins would have to do something with Gaby Sanchez, a good, young first baseman who isn’t making any money yet.

The San Francisco Giants have had interest in Fielder for years – remember the Matt Cain trade rumors – but probably wouldn’t be able to fit his salary into their payroll scheme at this juncture.

Wherever Fielder ends up, his team will be taking a risk that his age and his weight (27 and 280+ lbs) are still on the right side of things. Players of Fielder’s size tend not to age well, particularly where they’re counted on to play in the field, but a five-year deal for $23 to 25 million seems a fair chance to take. Adding years or dollars makes that risk calculus all the more skewed.

For the Cubs’ part, even if the team is not particularly intent on competing in 2012, signing Fielder is not out of the question. You can only sign a guy like Fielder when he’s available, and that’s this Winter. Assuming he remains productive into his early 30s, signing Fielder now is as much about being competitive in 2014 and 2015 as it is about 2012 and 2013.

Still, knowing how contracts tend to slip past even the most aggressive estimates, I would be surprised if a team is able to actually land Fielder for fewer than six years and less than $25 million per year.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

14 responses to “The Many Suitors of Prince Fielder”

  1. cubbylair

    I am a long suffering Cub fan who happens To live in Wisconsin and thus very familiar with Prince and his father. There is a reason why I have cited his father. Prince is listed at 270 and he must have had one foot off the scale when weighed. His dad was listed anywhere from 220 to 240 and I think he had only one finger on the scale. Cecil or “Big Daddy” as he was called had an extremely productive career until he was 31 when his playing time and production dropped significantly. I always felt this was due to his excess bulk. Prince appears headed down the same path.
    If the weight issue isn’t enough to turn you off his clubhouse presence or lack of should because In the heat of a pennant race he made the statement that he’ll probably leaving the team after the season. Wow.

    1. Jeff

      After watching Ryan Braun, Yovanni Golardo, Corey Hart, and Rickie Weeks get big contract extensions, and knowing that Zack Grienke and Shawn Marcum are soon due up for extensions, the whole situation has to have a negative impact on his view of the organization and his future with it.  I would be pissed if I was him.  He’s been the heart of that teams lineup since his debut, and still no contract extension.  He has the highest ever salary for an arbitration player(15.5 million).  The second highest (Mark Texiera 12.5 million), signed a 180 million dollar contract.  Fielder is going to match that, at the least.  There is no way that Milwuakee can give Fielder that big of a contract with their current payroll obligations.  The Brewers know this, Fielder knows this, and most people who follow baseball know this.  I find it refreshing that he isn’t coming out and lying to everyone about how he’s going to be a Brewer for his whole life.  He knows the team isn’t going  to pay him what he’s worth, he’s been waiting for them to extend him for two seasons now.  There is no shame in telling the truth Prince, I hope you get paid, and I hope it burns Bud Selig to watch you walk away from Milwaukee with them getting nothing in return.

      1. hardtop

        Um, they offered him 100 million dollars before the 2011 season. for a team not named the Yankees, that’s a huge chunk of change, and, in my opinion, a GREAT offer. He and his agent declined the offer, knowing it would be a small free agent class with most teams not able to afford Pujols. once Gonzalez signed with Boston it was guaranteed that Fielder would be WAY over paid. I’m just hoping its not the Cubs who do the overpaying.

        1. Jeff

          It’s not a great offer, it’s possibly half of what he would get on the open market.  I’m not advocating paying him 200 million, but it is in line with what the market is.

          1. hardtop

            Right, markets inflated because supply is down and demand is high. Doesn’t mean Milwaukee was lowballing him, or made him an unreasonable offer. If gonzalez is worth 21.5/yr., 20 for prince is a pretty nice offer.

  2. die hard

    going to AL team for reasons cited….will be DH in a few years…if Houston sold, it becomes AL team…he may go there as new owner would want to make big splash to compete against rival Texas for fans….

  3. cubsklm

    I get real tired of the political correctness stuff that says he’s not a good teammate, because he said he’s probably not going to be a Brewer next year.

    It’s called facing facts, honesty, living in the real world.

    1. hardtop

      dude, that’s not it at all. he’s not a good teammate because he cleans out the hotel breakfast bar before his teammates can get a crack at it. “hey prince! dont boggart those frosted flakes, man.”

      1. Caleb

        Lolz

  4. baseballet

    My worry regarding the Cubs acquiring Fielder is that he might eat 30M of a 120M annual payroll. That’s a lot of money for one player when the Cubs have SO MANY holes to fill on their roster.
    In order to truly compete for a WS in 2014/2015, the Cubs will need to have a balanced team in place, with star quality starting pitching. I think the Cubs should wait until they’re further along in the rebuilding process before they commit 25% of their payroll to one player, especially a first baseman. Once they have a more balanced core of players in place, that would be the time to spring for mega free agents to fill in the holes on the roster.
    Who knows, maybe by the time the Cubs are close to contending, first base won’t be their biggest need. It’s certainly not their biggest need for the next two seasons, and it may not be their biggest need in 2014. It’s easier to find a basher who can play first base than it is to find a star pitcher or an All Star corner outfielder. The Cubs need to stay young and hungry for at least one season.

  5. Deez

    We can not win w/ him in the next 2 -3yrs. I do not want Fielder.
    I think Washington & Seattle have the inside track. Also, I can see Baltimore going after him, but the best fit would be San Franscisco. I like Fielder, but anything over 5yrs $125M – $130M w/o a team exclusive option or buyout in the 6yr is insane. Big contracts strangle hold your organization especially if you can’t develop the talent around them. Cubs should never sign another player to any contract over 5yrs.

  6. Caleb

    To get the beat, you have to pay lots and take big risks. Never do all the risks pan out- the Yankees and red sox can tell you that. But they can also tell you how much fun it is to be awesome all the time.

    I don’t know about you, but I want to see the Cubs win. And win a lot. If that means taking on oversized risks and finding more money to cover the bets that don’t pay off, so be it. Raise the stakes, rickett. Time to go big.

    And yes, I’m aware of at least 2 “fielder is fat” implications in my argument.

    1. Hogie

      I wasn’t thinking the Fielder is fat angle, I was thinking the Soriano angle, as in we have been trying to do that for years. It hasn’t worked yet, got one GM fired, and isn’t going to work without some homegrown talent and pitching. Blowing the whole wad on Prince does not seem to be a winning idea.

      Fielder has been doing his thing for years, even had some other very good bats in the lineup with him, and they couldn’t get anywhere until they got some good pitching. That should say enough right there.