MLB Free Agency 2011: 12 Teams Who Will Pursue Prince Fielder in Free Agency
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All of those qualities will come at a cost, however. While Prince Fielder may not garner the king’s ransom Albert Pujols is likely to collect, he is going to get a huge contract in years and in dollars.
How much is he looking for? Who will give it to him?
Let’s find out.
Contract Demands for Fielder
Prince Fielder's agent; none other than Scott Boras
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Prince Fielder's average numbers per season in his brief five-and-a-half seasons: .281, 38 home runs and 107 RBI.
Those numbers alone will command serious dollars, but throw in the fact that Prince is a mere 27 years old, and that means he is likely headed out of Milwaukee.
Several teams could be in the market for Prince’s services this offseason and who could blame them? He has at least a few years left as a first baseman, keeping options open to both American League and National League teams.
Reports are that the asking price begins at eight years and $200 million. While the Brewers could meet those demands, it seems highly unlikely. That is just a starting point and with Scott Boras for an agent, that price will likely go up.
Let’s take a look at just who might be able to meet those demands from least likely to most likely.
12. St Louis Cardinals
Will Pujols stay in a Cardinals uniform after this season?
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The only way the Cardinals consider Fielder is if they are not able to re-sign Albert Pujols. Pujols simply means too much to the Cardinals franchise for them to let him walk.
They can and will pay Pujols, even at the expense of losing someone like Chris Carpenter and his $14 million option.
11. San Francisco Giants
"Hmm, how can I get more run support?"
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The Giants have the pitching. Nobody can doubt that. It carried them to a World Series Championship last year. As a result, they may desire Fielder (and have in the past with a Fielder/Matt Cain swap rumored), but they don’t need him and won’t be motivated to join the bidding war.
They also have Aubrey Huff for at least one more year and Brandon Belt still fighting to make an impact in the big leagues.
10. Toronto Blue Jays
Adam Lind has become a dangerous hitter once again. But does the offense need help?
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Alex Anthopolous seems like a genius to me. He has made some brilliant moves to better the Blue Jays, including trading Shaun Marcum for what looks to be a perennial All-Star in Brett Lawrie.
Ironically, they may look toward pitching in the offseason as beyond Ricky Romero, they have been shaky at best. They already have an up-and-coming team with a lot of offense.
9. New York Yankees
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Priority number one for the Yankees is to re-sign C.C. Sabathia who is looking to opt-out of his contract and hit another payday. Should they do that, they need to seriously upgrade somewhere in order to keep pace with the Boston Red Sox.
Starting pitching is their first option. Names like Mark Buehrle, Chris Carpenter, Edwin Jackson and Hiroki Kuroda may be available to stabilize their rotation until prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances are ready.
Still, Prince Fielder would improve any offense and hit a ton of home runs in the Yankees small ballpark.
Small problem. The Yankees already have Gold Glove first baseman Mark Teixeira cemented at first base. In a couple years, Alex Rodriguez may be relegated to first base or DH as well.
They could sign Prince and let it play out for a couple years, but Prince likes playing first base, even if he is not very good at it.
8. Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw leads a deep rotation in Los Angeles.
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Sure they have financial woes, but that may change as ownership changes which could still take some time. They also have Rafael Furcal’s $13 million contract off of their books next season and will likely replace him with inexpensive rookie Dee Gordon.
The Dodgers are committed to winning and should be given the current makeup of their team.
With James Loney not getting the job done this year, Prince could really bolster their lineup and fit nicely after Ethier and Kemp. Couple the lineup with a strong starting rotation and the Dodgers could be the powerhouse of the NL West.
7. Milwaukee Brewers
Hard to beat a better hitting duo in baseball than Fielder and Braun
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A dream scenario for Brewers fans. Prince stays in Milwaukee and continues the prominent duo of Braun and Fielder for nearly another decade.
The Brewers would certainly welcome the idea and it would be great for at least one more year with Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke returning. The problem would be what will their rotation look like when they can’t re-sign Marcum or Greinke after 2012.
The Brewers gave up a lot of their farm system to get Marcum and Greinke. I can’t see them signing Prince at $25 million per season and letting Marcum and Greinke both leave.
Perhaps that's why they drafted two college pitchers in the top 15 picks in the draft?
6. Seattle Mariners
Will Jack Zduriencik be answering questions about signing Fielder this offseason?
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Surprise, surprise the Mariners are holding their own in the AL West this year. They have a solid rotation, but as usual need more offense.
Reinforcements may be on the way as Dustin Ackley comes up, but Justin Smoak is a great defender at first base, meaning Prince again would be relegated to DH.
Still, it makes some sense, as the Mariners have the money to sign Prince and general manager Jack Zduriencik just happens to be the man who drafted him.
5. Tampa Bay Rays
Who wouldn't want to play for Joe Maddon?
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Prince went to high school just over 100 miles away from Tampa, and a return may be somewhat enticing.
Even more enticing is the Rays team. Their rotation is one of the best in baseball. They still have Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and an underachieving B.J. Upton.
But trotting Casey Kotchman out at first base is not their ticket to overcoming the Red Sox and Yankees. Without a big hitter to their lineup, their impressive pitching staff will be wasted.
Can they afford Prince? I’m not so sure. They do have an incredibly low payroll this year at $41 million. Maybe they are saving up?
4. Los Angeles Angels
Will Kendrys Morales ever play again?
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The Angels may not have payroll flexibility in season but when they are not paying Gary Matthews Jr. and Scott Kazmir over $20 million next year, that will help soften the blow.
They still have some big contracts in Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells, but they are so close to controlling the AL West with their pitching and defense. If they can find a way to afford Prince, his bat is truly their missing link.
Of course, they could wait and see what they can get out of Kendrys Morales, but he may have to DH if he can even play at all.
I would not normally rank them this high, but they are built to win now and general manager Tony Reagins often surprises.
3. Baltimore Orioles
Buck Showalter has the Orioles going in a positive direction.
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Buck Showalter really turned around the Orioles last year. This year, they have had some key injuries to Brian Matusz and Brian Roberts slowing them down.
They do have a big hole at first base next year and a willingness to spend money. Do they have enough to compete in their insanely difficult division? Only if their young and talented starting pitching holds up.
The ball doesn't travel well in the spring, but as the weather gets warmer, a mere 318 feet down the right field line may leave Prince salivating at how many home runs he could hit.
2. Chicago Cubs
Will Jim Hendry still be calling the shots for the Cubs after 2011?
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Prince could really scorn the Brewers and end up with one of their biggest rivals, the Chicago Cubs.
Despite payroll issues, the Cubs have more than $70 million coming off the books after this season. Even if Ryan Dempster and Aramis Ramirez are back, they still have over $40 million in payroll relief.
Carlos Pena will be a free agent after this year, opening up first base and the Cubs do have some young talent to build around.
The Cubs could give Fielder a ton of money, but I do not see him going to the Brewer's rival.
1. Washington Nationals
Stephen Strasburg is so good that he may only need a solo home run to win.
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Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Prince Fielder?
Imagine the team the Nationals could have in the next couple years. Add Jordan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth to the mix. Then think about the potential prospects to help in Anthony Rendon, Alex Meyer, Matt Purke, A.J. Cole, Sammy Solis and Derek Norris.
If I'm giddy thinking about how much fun this team would be, general manager Mike Rizzo has to be dreaming of a similar scenario. Rizzo is aggressive enough to pay Fielder too.
The Nationals strategy has been to sign or acquire athletic outfielders, but if they can sign Prince and shift Morse back to the outfield, they could be dangerous for years to come.
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Right along with Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder will have many suitors in the offseason. He will have to weigh his options likely based on money and the ability to play first base. But let's face it, if the Brewers don't win the world series, he'll want to go to a contender as well.
While the Brewers will likely extend a courtesy offer, they have not even been close on a contract extension in the past.
Whoever gets Prince Fielder's services, it will come at a cost. But they may get so much more in return.