MLB: Prince Fielders Contract and Contracts Like It Need to End

Bryan KempContributor IIFebruary 8, 2012

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 26:  Prince Fielder #28 of the Detroit Tigers puts on his jersey, helped by CEO and general manager Dave Dombrowski (L) and owner Mike Ilitch during a press conference at Comerica Park on January 26, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jorge Lemus/Getty Images)
Jorge Lemus/Getty Images

The huge contracts we're seeing in Major League Baseball have become too much.

Alex Rodriguez started it off with his $252 million contract for the Texas Rangers—$63 million more than the second richest baseball deal ever. Rodriguez now has the richest contract in MLB history, after inking a deal worth $275 million from the Yankees in 2004. Undoubtedly, Rodriguez was the best player in baseball at the time, but contracts like this make the MLB too lopsided.

The latest Prince Fielder contract is approaching on absurd. This year alone, his salary is about a third of the Kansas City Royals total payroll.

How are small markets teams supposed to contend with the larger market teams? It's almost impossible—unless you're the Tampa Bay Rays, who have drafted very well over the years. 

Two weeks ago, the Detroit Tigers signed Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract—the fourth largest contract in MLB history. With all that said, Fielder could end up earning a lot more money with the incentives in his contract:

  • $500,000 if he's the AL MVP; $200,000 if he's second through fifth; $100,000 if he's sixth through 10th.
  • $1 million for each MVP.
  • $100,000 if he's an All-Star starter, $50,000 if he's a reserve.
  • $100,000 if he's a Baseball America or Sporting News postseason All-Star.
  • $100,000 for a Gold Glove.
  • $100,000 for a Silver Slugger (given to the top player at each position in both leagues).
  • $100,000 for the Hank Aaron award (given to the top hitter in both leagues).
  • $150,000 for League Championship series MVP.
  • $200,000 for World Series MVP.

So what happens if Fielder ends up like a Kevin Brown, Barry Zito or Johan Santana? Maybe he gets injured over and over, or just ends up losing his dominance.

I don't get why every contract is fully guaranteed in Major League Baseball—I can handle it being partially guaranteed, but guaranteeing the entirety of a $200 million contract doesn't make much sense to me.

What happens if Fielder doesn't make the All-Star team this year? Or if he doesn't win a Silver Slugger? Is it in his contract that he has to give back $100,000 or $50,000 to the Tigers?

It just baffles me how a team can pay one player so much money, who can turn out to be the next Barry Zito—not bringing anything to the team that a $100 or $200 million player should. 

I think the MLB should impose a salary cap to even out the playing field. It gets a little old when the same teams are in the playoffs each year. Then teams like the Toronto Blue Jays don't stand a chance going up against teams with the payroll of the Yankees and Red Sox. I know the Rays are contending right now, but they will not be able to re-sign their top-notch players beyond their rookie contracts.