Ever since the Milwaukee Brewers signed Ryan Braun to a new contract, the writing has been on the wall for Prince Fielder. The portly first basemen is scheduled to hit free agency after the 2011 season, and trade rumors have been swirling for the past year now about his possible landing place.
No one knows for sure how it will happen, but one thing is for sure—Fielder will not be a Brewer next year unless he takes a major pay cut.
I suppose it makes sense since the Rangers seem to need a first baseman who can provide some pop in the middle of the lineup and Fielder can definitely supply that. He is only 27 which means he should be hitting his prime right now, and if the past is any indication, he would be an incredible addition.
But I equate Prince Fielder to a summer time blockbuster at the box office—I mean, everyone likes movies right? We'll just say Prince Fielder is the recently released Thor. The similarities are there after all—mighty warrior, carries a hammer, so on and so forth.
Big budget movies like Thor all do the same thing, in the exact same way. They start advertising early. It seems like I've heard about Thor for the last year-and-a-half, and it's just now in theatres.
They spend a fortune. Thor had an estimated budget of $150 million according to the Internet Movie Database.
Finally, these big budget thrillers all have something missing and eventually disappoint. With some it's story line, some it's bad acting, and with some it's a combination of both. So what they lack in these areas, they try to make up for in gimmicks or explosions (I'm talking to you Michael Bay). What thrills more than cars blowing up, right?
The same can be said for Fielder.
The bulky baller has been the subject of rumors for over a year now. I went to mlbtraderumors.com and searched Prince Fielder and discovered that he has been the subject of trade rumors all the way back to April 2010. Since that time, Fielder has accrued nine pages worth of rumors on the site.
Last year at the deadline, the White Sox and Giants were the front runners to pull off a trade for the heavy hitter, and those bids fell short. Then the Brewers acquired Zack Greinke in a last ditch effort to make a World Series run before the Prince prances off to a giant pay day. Currently the Brewers are two games under .500, and if they fall out of the race, the rumors will once again pick up.
For the Rangers to even consider acquiring Fielder in a trade before the deadline, you can go ahead and say goodbye to at least one elite prospect but possibly two. That means possibly two of Martin Perez, Tanner Scheppers, Jurickson Profar, Robbie Erlin, Engel Beltre and Neil Ramirez.
This also spells the end for Mitch Moreland, Chris Davis or Micahel Young if not all of them. Young becomes much easier to part with now that there is an able bat to take his place. If the Rockies still are interested in his services, he will be wearing purple and black in 2012 for a substantially lower asking price.
Davis is the most likely to be included in the trade between him and Moreland. At least that's what the Rangers would hope. There is absolutely no spot on the team for Davis if this happens whereas Moreland could be used in the outfield if they decide to move Hamilton to DH after the season.
Would Fielder be worth it? Howard Megdal of espn.com argues that the best way to evaluate a player's worth is to evaluate the WAR (wins above replacement) stat. WAR examines how many more wins that player is worth compared to his backup.
Megdal argues that Fielder is the fifth most irreplaceable player in all of baseball, stating that an estimated drop off of six games could be expected by backups Erick Almonte and Mark Kotsay. With this statement I agree.
But what about compared to Mitch Moreland? If Fielder is only worth six more wins than Almonte and Kotsay, with Moreland he wouldn't be worth more than three or four. Are three or four wins worth losing Moreland, Perez and other intregal parts to the future?
Assuming the Rangers do not trade for Fielder, which they shouldn't, that means they would be spending loads of money to acquire him in free agency. How much is Prince Fielder worth?
Fielder's agent Scott Boras is known for getting unheard of amounts of money for his clients, and there's no reason to think Fielder would be any different. Boras has already said he views Fielder's talent in the same way he views Mark Teixeira. Teixeira signed a eight-year, $180 million deal with Yankees in December of 2009.
Assuming the Rangers forked over $180 million for Prince, what money would be left to re-sign C.J. Wilson? Without Wilson, you're looking at a rotation fronted by Colby Lewis who is just one year removed from pitching in the Japanese league. After that you have the inexperienced Alexi Ogando, followed by players who haven't lived up to their promise in Derek Holland and Matt Harrison.
Pitching must be at the forefront of the Rangers' offseason wish list. If a starter can not be acquired, they must go after Heath Bell, Rafael Soriano or another front line closer so that Neftali Feliz can transition to the rotation. It would be an irresponsible use of money to go after Fielder.
Sure Fielder would be nice if the Rangers could afford him and still be able to keep their talented core intact, but there is no way they could do that.
Without a good supporting cast, films are mediocre at best no matter how good the lead role, and the same is true in baseball. Sure the offensive numbers will make a possible Fielder acquisition look like a success (much like the car explosions and the film being in 3D), but the truth is its just a mask that a bad team will hide behind for the next seven years.
Fielder will likely land in a place with deep pockets that need him much more than the Rangers do. The Nationals, Mets or Cubs all fit this description. If Texas does make a splash at the deadline, it will be for a bullpen arm or another starter. The only player I see them possibly trading Perez or other top prospects for would be Florida's Josh Johnson, but they are unwilling at the moment to discuss there ace.
This summer will be another exciting time in trying to decide who goes where, one thing is for sure—the Prince will not be going to Arlington.