Seattle Mariners: What Losing the Prince Fielder Sweepstakes Means for the M's

Davis ZhaoCorrespondent IIJanuary 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

No one but Scott Boras and Detroit Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski could have seen this one coming.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Tigers landed star slugger Prince Fielder in what ended up being a brilliantly-executed deal by super-agent Boras. Fielder signed a hefty $214 million contract over nine years, unofficially ending free agency as the last prize to be taken off the shelf.

But let's leave the celebration to the Tigers, who now have two of the best first basemen in baseball.

Us Mariners fans? For now, we'll drown our sorrows with a cup of Starbucks and video clips of Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero on repeat. 

But moving forward, we need to recognize that in the long run, not being able to woo Fielder might not be so bad. The Mariners might have put too many eggs in one basket sitting on their wallet as the Fielder talks stalled, but if they were expected to shell out almost $24 million a year until the bulky slugger was 36, then I'm glad things didn't work out.

Besides the fact that Fielder shunned Seattle, I just don't think that kind of money is worth it over nine years.

OK, so maybe the M's make some noise the next few years with Fielder (and get edged out by Texas and Los Angeles). But this deal is like a tattoo someone you know got without thinking as a teenager: it'll look like a pretty bad move five years from now, when you can't wait to get rid of an aging and underperforming Fielder. 

So what do the Mariners do now? Scrape the bottom of the barrel with Johnny Damon or Raul Ibanez?

Or is their 2012 campaign in the hands of the young core they've developed in Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero, Mike Carp and company?

To be quite honest, if expectations are low for this season, I'm alright with seeing what becomes of their amazing potential.

And yet, on the other hand, I can't help but feel a little disappointment. I don't know if it's in Jack Zduriencik, because he only made one big deal this offseason. It's his fourth year now at the helm, and "In Z We Trust" will wane if the M's underwhelm again, which appears to be the likely case.

Maybe it's in the ownership, who seem to be keeping their wallet nice and fat as the M's are significantly under budget for the coming season. Hopefully, the extra money will go towards landing some juicy free agents next winter, but it's unlikely.

M's fans have a right to be a little confused right now. Is Montero expected to be Fielder without the massive contract? Are the Mariners still on track to break out in 2013 like expected?

While not going all-in on Fielder will turn out to be the prudent choice, the Mariners will need to have some tricks up their sleeve or a boatload of cash to spend next year if the team is to compete in the AL West.