5 Reasons the Detroit Tigers Will Regret Signing Prince Fielder Long-Term
Teams that sign players to these mega-deals usually end up regretting them towards the end of the contract.
Here are five reasons why the Tigers will regret theirs.
No. 5: Cost of the Contract
Fielder signed a nine-year, $214 million contract. According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, Fielder is due to make $23 million from 2012-2013 and $24 million from 2014-2020.
Regardless of how good he is, $24 million is a lot of money to pay a player.
The only good news is Miguel Cabrera's contract expires after the 2015 season, so his contract comes off the books. That is, of course, unless the Tigers decide to re-sign him to an extension and keep him a Tiger for the rest of his career.
A team like the Tigers also is not known for its financial might. This could be extremely hard on the organization down the road, which brings us to...
No. 4: Inability to Sign/Re-Sign Players
Signing a player to such a large deal takes a huge financial commitment, and one that could prove costly in more than just monetary value.
The Tigers need to look no further than the Texas Rangers back in 2001. The Rangers were able to sign Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year, $252 million contract, which was the largest contract in the history of baseball to that date.
A-Rod played brilliantly for the Rangers, however the team did nothing. He won the MVP award in 2003, while the team finished in last place in the standings.
The reason? The Rangers weren't able to sign any other players to fill the other holes in their depth chart.
It is likely we will see another scenario for the Tigers down the road.
We even have an example of this recently. KFFL.com reported that the Tigers are limited as to what they can offer Yoenis Cespedes this offseason due to the contract they signed Fielder to. In other words, the Tigers likely are not going to be able to sign Cespedes, as he will likely sign with the team that offers the most financial security.
This could be a trend that is noticed for some time after this offseason as well.
According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are making $22 million and $24 million in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Tigers ace Justin Verlander has his contract expire after the 2014 season.
It is not likely that Verlander will sign another team-friendly deal like he did back in 2010. He will likely command a contract that will pay him near or over $20 million each season, depending on how these next couple of seasons go.
Therefore, it will be incredibly difficult to sign Verlander to another deal with two players already making over $20 million on the roster. This could signify the end of Verlander's career as a Tiger unless the club finds some way to move money around.
No. 3: His Health
While Fielder has been remarkably healthy so far in his career (and he is only turning 28 years old in May), it is safe to assume that his body may start to shut down towards the end of his career.
At 5'11" and 275 pounds, Fielder has a body type that is more suited for a defensive lineman in football than for a first baseman in baseball. The constant wear and tear on the body from playing the field, especially for someone Fielder's size, will eventually catch up to him.
Once again, take a look at A-Rod for the perfect example. A-Rod signed his most recent deal with the New York Yankees just after the 2007 season, when he was 31 years old. Since then, he has been struggling to stay healthy.
A-Rod's hip started to give him trouble, and last season his knee was a primary injury that kept him under 100 games for the first time since 1995. Mind you, he was only 35 last season.
A-Rod has always been considered one of the most fit athletes in the game, so to see his body start to shut down on him so much is quite a surprise. Many will attribute A-Rod's body troubles to his steroid use, and some of that may be true. However, the fact still remains that as players get older, they just aren't able to do what they used to with such ease.
With Fielder under contract until he is 36 years old, it is likely the Tigers will have to encounter their fair share of injuries to their Prince. I just hope for their sake that is not the case.
No. 2: Defensive Liability
Prince Fielder has never been known for his glove.
In fact, he is not very good in the field.
Over his six seasons as a starting first baseman, he has only posted one season with a UZR that was positive (that was a 1.7 in 2009). Over the duration of his six seasons, he has accumulated a career UZR of minus-36.3.
Teams with a bad defensive first baseman usually have an increase in errors by their infielders. The first baseman isn't able to save as many errant throws by the infielders, and they could suffer from it.
His defense is only going to continue to diminish over time. This will likely push him into a full-time DH player.
No. 1: He Will Become a Full-Time DH
By the end of his contract, Prince Fielder is likely going to be a full-time DH. Most people are OK with that type of thing, however it puts a real hindrance on the organization.
Once Fielder becomes strictly a DH later in his career, he will be taking away that spot that others could use to get a half-day off or to help rest the starters. It also greatly decreases the team's options for roster moves, as Fielder will only be able to play DH and not the field.
Not to mention, $24 million is a lot of money to pay for someone who only hits the ball and offers nothing else for your organization. They would be better off paying someone a maximum of $12 million to DH and produce slightly less numbers, and using that extra $12 million to sign a player (or two) at another position of need.
That is a lot of unnecessary pressure for the Tigers and Fielder once he reaches the end of his contract.