The GM meetings are taking place this week in Orlando, and as a result the MLB rumor mill has kicked into full gear over the past few days.
The Tigers signed Fielder to a massive nine-year, $214 million deal prior to the 2012 season, and he'll make $24 million annually for the next seven years, with the deal expiring at the end of his age-36 season.
With a payroll of roughly $148 million on Opening Day last year, according to CBSSports, the Tigers entered the year with the fifth-highest payroll in all of baseball.
That has led to rumors that the team will shop AL Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer this offseason, as the Scott Boras client is set to hit free agency at the end of the 2014 season and the team will likely not have the money to retain him.
Dealing Fielder is certainly another avenue for the Tigers to explore as they look to keep their payroll from ballooning even further, but it will be no easy task given the $168 million left on his deal.
Money is not the only factor that will make moving Fielder difficult though, as the slugger has also seen his power numbers dip since moving to Detroit, despite the fact that Comerica Park ranked as the No. 3 hitters' park in the MLB last season, according to ESPN.
|Prince Fielder Power Numbers Since 2007|
Granted Fielder is still a plus offensive option at first base, and he has provided much-needed protection for Miguel Cabrera in the middle of the Tigers' lineup, but he's not the same feared slugger he was during his time in Milwaukee.
That said, there are a few teams that could at least kick around the idea of acquiring Fielder, though it would no doubt take the Tigers throwing in a good deal of cash to get any deal done.
The Rockies are in the market for a first baseman, but with pitching still their primary need, chances are they won't get involved with Fielder. Three other teams could be a fit in the right situation though, and it may not take as much as you'd think to land Fielder, with the Tigers' biggest concern being shedding his salary if they do in fact move him.
Boston Red Sox: 3B Will Middlebrooks and SP Allen Webster for Fielder
The Red Sox extended a qualifying offer to Mike Napoli after he finished second on the team in home runs (23) and RBI (92), but the 32-year-old declined the one-year, $14.1 million offer and will explore the open market.
According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, re-signing Napoli remains one of the team's top priorities this offseason, but as the top first baseman on the market he will no doubt have other teams interested. After him, Kendrys Morales and James Loney are the top options, so there's a significant drop-off.
Should he sign elsewhere, the Red Sox could certainly explore a deal for Fielder, and with one of the deepest farm systems in all of baseball they have the pieces to get a deal done.
A package built around Will Middlebrooks and Allen Webster could be enough to get a deal done, with a few low-level pieces from the Red Sox thrown in as well. That is provided the Red Sox take on most of his contract in the deal. After shedding so much salary in their blockbuster with the Dodgers, it remains to be seen if Boston is ready to dive back into the mega-contract pool.
From Detroit's standpoint, the deal would allow the Tigers to move Miguel Cabrera back to first base with Middlebrooks at third, and give the team a potential replacement for Max Scherzer next year with plenty of upside in Webster.
New York Mets: SP Rafael Montero, C Kevin Plawecki, RP Vic Black, 1B Ike Davis for Fielder and cash
The Mets are expected to be as busy as anyone this offseason, and with a good young pitching staff in place, they are expected to use their substantial payroll room to add pieces to their offense.
An outfielder and a shortstop are their two biggest areas of need, but with either Ike Davis or Lucas Duda slated to play first base, Fielder would certainly be an upgrade at first and a much-needed second run producer alongside David Wright in the lineup.
There's a good chance the team throws a $100 million-plus deal at Shin-Soo Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury to upgrade in center field, but the Mets would still have the money to add Fielder as well if they were willing to approach the $149 million their payroll was at in 2009.
A package of Rafael Montero, Kevin Plawecki and Victor Black would not feature an elite prospect, but could be enough talent to get a deal done. Throwing in Ike Davis would give the team an immediate replacement for Fielder who still has the tools to be a 30-HR guy if he can figure things out, and all of that could be enough for the Tigers to pick up a decent amount of money in the deal as well.
Montero would give the team a high-upside starter near big league ready, Plawecki profiles as a plus offensive catcher and should continue to move quickly and Black could help out in a thin bullpen immediately.
Seattle Mariners: SP Tyler Pike, 3B Stefen Romero, OF Julio Morban, RP Stephen Pryor for Fielder
The Mariners were very much in the running for Prince Fielder before he signed with the Tigers, according to Greg Johns of MLB.com, and they continue to look for ways to improve their offense as they look to make the jump from rebuilding to contender with a solid young core.
Stefen Romero is blocked by Kyle Seager at third base in Seattle, but he has .306/.357/.506 career line in three minor league seasons, and he more than held his own in Triple-A last year. He could step in at third and shift Cabrera back to first base.
Tyler Pike is not one of the Mariners' big three pitching prospects, but the 19-year-old left-hander had a fantastic season in 2013 and he could move quickly. Stephen Pryor has electric stuff, and if he can stay healthy and reign in his control he could be a dominant late-inning reliever.
Morbon is another big league–ready piece, and the left-handed hitter is a potential .300 hitter who could serve as the Tigers' fourth outfielder in 2014 and play his way into significant at-bats if he adjusts quickly to the big league level.
This deal would keep the Mariners from giving up any of their marquee young talent, and in return they'd likely have to take on the bulk of Fielder's contract. Adding Fielder and signing a center fielder could be enough to propel the Mariners offense into the upper half of the American League or higher.
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