MLB Trade Rumors: Prince Fielder Said to Ink 9-Year Deal with Detroit Tigers

Joe UnderhillCorrespondent IIIJanuary 24, 2012

MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 16:  Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers bats against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Six of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on October 16, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The unbelievable just happened.

Well, maybe...then again maybe not. The Detroit Tigers are owned by one of the most motivated and willing-to-spend owners in Major League Baseball. Mike Ilitch has proven over and over again that he is willing to open the checkbook to fix a glaring need on one of his teams.

If the reports of the Tigers signing Prince Fielder are true, the Tigers owner and his front office staff have done it again.

This time they look to have signed a player longtime Tigers fans have known since his days hitting baseballs out of old Tiger Stadium. Prince Fielder grew up in Detroit while is father (Cecil) mashed and bashed the baseball for the Tigers.

With the probable season-ending knee injury to Victor Martinez creating a huge hole in the middle of Jim Leyland's batting order, Dave Dombrowski and Mike Ilitch went to work. The reported deal will have Fielder with the Tigers for the next nine years.

There are a couple of interesting ramifications with this signing.

First the Tigers now have two elite first basemen in Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Cabrera is a better defender, but Fielder has more power. Second, the DH spot is open for this season, but what happens when Martinez comes back?

This makes for an interesting situation to monitor into next offseason.

Pundits (from ESPN, CBS, Yahoo, etc.) have suggested Fielder and Cabrera will split time at first and DH this year, and Cabrera would move to third next season. It is conceivable for Cabrera to move to third even though he has only logged 12 games there since his trade to Detroit in 2007.

Another interesting time line to watch is the development of Nick Castellanos, the top position prospect in the Tigers system and a third baseman.

The Tigers project him to be ready for some major league at-bats at the end of next (2013) season, and ready to compete for a full-time major league job in 2014.

Martinez's contract runs out at the end of 2014, and Cabrera is a free agent in 2016. If Cabrera is playing third, Castellanos might have to wait till 2015 to become the full-time third baseman in Detroit, with Cabrera and Fielder sharing DH and first.

Right now there are several ways Leyland can shape his lineup, but I'll save that for another time. It's super exciting thinking about having Cabrera and Fielder batting in the middle of the Tigers' batting order.