There’s no denying Prince Fielder can hit. He posted a .981 OPS and batted a career high .299 last year. There’s also no denying that Prince Fielder can’t really field. Last season he had a -0.7 defensive WAR and -5.1 UZR.
The obvious reason to believe the Nationals passed up on one of the best hitters in the game is the presence of Adam LaRoche. Laroche is entering a contract season, as is Michael Morse, who is coming off a breakout season. Where would Fielder play if Washington trusts LaRoche?
In a way this leads right into my point; the National League’s lack of the designated hitter cost the Nats one of the game’s best power hitters.
Prince Fielder has reportedly signed a nine-year deal worth $214 million with the Detroit Tigers. This instantly re-buffs a Detroit Tigers lineup that had just suffered the loss of run-producer Victor Martinez to a torn ACL. It has just been announced that Miguel Cabrera has agreed to play 3B in 2012, slotting in the 275lb Fielder at 1B; the two will most likely share the DH spot. In 2013, with the return of Martinez, the Tigers can utilize their versatility by shifting each of the three as DH on any given day.
The deal is only the fourth in major league history to exceed $200 million, with the other three being Alex Rodriguez to Texas, Alex Rodriguez to New York, and Albert Pujols to the Angels. The Tigers, who won the AL Central by 15 games in 2011, should undoubtedly be division, if not American League, favorites in 2012.
This is the third part of our nine-part series entitled Set You Free, which takes a position-by-position look at this offseason’s free agency market. Today, Tyler Wasserman asks a simple question: who’s on first?
Last week, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim took the baseball world by storm by signing Albert Pujols to a massive 10-year $254 million contract. In doing so, they secured themselves not only the best first baseman on the free agent market, but also arguably the best player in the game today. Let’s take a look at what remains for teams looking for free agent first basemen:
MLBDepthCharts.com is the creation of baseball junkie Jason Martinez, who has been intrigued by the construction of rosters since childhood. The website, and a soon-to-be-released digital magazine, allows readers to follow along as he deconstructs and rebuilds the pieces to the roster puzzle for all 30 major league organizations. The website has become a valuable resource for baseball fans, fantasy geeks, beat writers, reporters, scouts, and front office executives. In July 2011, MLBDepthCharts was named to SI.com’s inaugural Twitter 100, a list honoring the most essential twitter feeds in the sports world.
Jesse Behr: Since the story is hot off the press, what’s your reaction to the Marlins reeling in Heath Bell?
Jason Martinez: I understand the concerns people are going to have. Giving a 34-year-old with a declining strikeout rate a three-year, $27 million deal is risky for obvious reasons. But let me put a positive spin on this, since I’ve watched him on a daily basis here in San Diego. His stuff is still there. I couldn’t tell you the reason why his K rate is down, but the mid-90′s heater and sharp breaking ball haven’t gone away. He’s been one of the best relievers in baseball for the past five seasons, first as a setup man to Trevor Hoffman, then as the Padres’ closer. Bell will be fine for the first two years in Miami. I’d worry how effective he’ll be in year three of the deal when he’s 36 years old. But that’s less of a concern for a team that has a sense of urgency to compete in 2012.
Although most Dodgers fans, myself included, agree that signing a player like Prince Fielder would help resurrect the franchise immediately, it’s not going to happen. Of course if it did, season ticket sales would skyrocket and the team would finally have the big bat it’s missed since Manny was downing women’s fertility drugs. However, by the time the Dodgers are sold, the 2011 free agency bonanza will be over and any new owner will simply not be able to do anything about it. The only possible way for the Dodgers to land Prince Fielder is if Frank McCourt shrewdly decides that signing him would greatly increase the value of the franchise and its price tag in the upcoming auction, a move that could forever alter his legacy as the team’s owner.
With the Dodgers locking down runner up MVP Matt Kemp to the biggest contract in Dodger history (8 years/$160 million), they have secured the face of the franchise for nearly a decade. It’s scary to say that $20 million dollars a year seems to have come at a bit of a hometown discount. After all, last off-season the Washington Nationals signed Jason Werth to a ridiculous 7 year/126 million-dollar deal, which will pay Werth $21 million dollars guaranteed when he turns 38. $20 million for Matt Kemp, a player Jason Werth could never be, is beginning to look like a bargain. So the Dodgers can take a very quick sigh of relief and check Kemp off their long to-do list.
In Episode 135 of Listen Up! host Jesse Kass hosts the show solo with co-host Scott Heineman out of town. Kass discusses the continuation of the NBA Playoffs, including previews and predictions for the Conference Finals between the Heat & Pacers and Spurs & Grizzlies. Kass also talks about the offseason needs for the Bulls, Knicks, Thunder, and Warri […]