Prince Fielder, who was the MVP for the 2011 MLB All-Star Game, could very well be the National League MVP by season's end. His contract is up at the end of the season. How much exactly is the 27-year-old first baseman worth if his second half of the season is identical to his first half?
Comparing Fielder directly to his peers is one way to figure out what figure the Prince should earn. Mark Teixeira just signed an eight-year contract with the Yankees a few years back for $180 million. Ryan Howard, another large slugger, inked a $125 million deal over five seasons. He was three years older than Fielder at the time. Fielder has a slightly better career batting average than Howard and is 54 home runs short of him to this point, despite being much younger. Teixeira has a slightly better batting average while it appears Fielder will match his home run total when he reaches the same age.
However, Teixeira is a Gold Glove first baseman. With the Yankees and Red Sox out of the running, who signed their own Gold Glove guy in Adrian Gonzalez to a seven-year, $154 million deal, Fielder's options are limited from the top two suitors. Joey Votto's extension with Cincinnati in January 2011 is an absolute great deal for the Reds at three years and $38 million.
Fielder's shape is an obvious issue for teams thinking about signing him to a long-term deal. He runs quite well for a man his size now, but that's doubtful as he goes into his 30s. His father, Cecil Fielder, had a significant drop off in production later in his career and he was a large man, to say the least. Fielder has been durable, only missing a high of five games in a season since entering the league. An American League team would be the best guess as to who's going to give Fielder the deal he's looking for because he'd be able to be a DH later in his career.
However, Adam Dunn could be a warning sign for teams to stay away from Prince Fielder. Dunn is hitting below .200 so far this season after signing a healthy contract of four years, $56 million to DH with the White Sox after coming from the National League. This could be dismissed because Fielder puts the ball in play much more often than Dunn and his defense is better at first base.
Fielder will also be competing with Albert Pujols in the offseason. Pujols keeps himself in much better shape, but his totals this season are nowhere near Fielder's in 2011. Fielder's walks have improved from year to year as it seems he's understanding more as he progresses through his career.
The big-money teams appear to either have their big-money first basemen or they have rising prospects at the position. It only takes one team for a nice payday though. A team like the San Francisco Giants could step up to the plate and get the run production they need with a player like Fielder. Expect the current Brewer to take something similar to what Ryan Howard took in 2010. There shouldn't and likely won't be as many years as Teixeira's deal, but the money per year will be as large as Fielder's waistline.
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