Prince Fielder Free Agent News: The Odds of Each MLB Team Landing Brewer Slugger

Doug MeadCorrespondent IOctober 18, 2011

Prince Fielder Free Agent News: The Odds of Each MLB Team Landing Brewer Slugger

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    As the National League Championship Series came to a conclusion on Sunday night in Miller Park, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder had to have taken a moment to reflect on his career in Milwaukee, knowing full well that he could have played his last game there.

    In Fielder’s six-plus seasons in Milwaukee, he put together a body of work that can only be described as remarkable. Consider these numbers for a moment:

    • Became the 25th member of the 50-home run club in 2007
    • Won Silver Slugger in 2007
    • Three-time all-star (2007, 2009, 2011)
    • 15th-youngest player in Major League history to reach the 200-homer plateau
    • Is a vegetarian

    Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “why is Fielder being a vegetarian on this list?” Well, I included this fact because of all the naysayers who believe Fielder will constantly have a weight problem. From the beginning of the 2011 until Sunday’s NLCS final game, Fielder gained zero weight, and his body weight has not fluctuated much at all since the 2008 season.

    Let’s face it—Fielder is a stud ballplayer. He has worked diligently in improving his defense at first base, and while he will never be confused with Mark Teixeira, his defense has improved since breaking into the majors.

    There will be teams lining up for a chance at acquiring Fielder, and others who would certainly love to have the slugger on their team as well, but won’t be able to pony up the money necessary.

    So, just what is every team’s chance at signing Fielder to a long-term lucrative contract?

    Let’s take a look…

    Note: While there are a number of teams who are listed at zero percent, we will also explain that reasoning as well.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks were clearly the surprise of the National League in the 2011 season, and GM Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson certainly deserve the credit they’re receiving.

    However, the D-Backs had the sixth-lowest payroll in Major League Baseball, according to USA Today, and signing Fielder would represent close to half their payroll.

    Towers will continue working to upgrade the D-Backs, and keep them competitive in the NL West, but it will be without Fielder.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Zero percent

Atlanta Braves

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    The Atlanta Braves got a very encouraging performance from rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman in the 2011 season. Freeman hit .282 with 21 HR and 76 RBI, and fielded his position extremely well, committing just six errors all season with a .996 fielding percentage.

    At just 22 years of age, Freeman is clearly a budding superstar who is under team control for several years. Unless Fielder wants to play right field, there is virtually no chance of signing him.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Zero percent

Baltimore Orioles

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    There is a strong likelihood that Mark Reynolds, who rebounded after a bad start to hit 37 home runs for the Baltimore Orioles, will be moved to first base next season.

    Reynolds played 44 games at first after the departure of Derrek Lee, and the O’s will likely look to give Chris Davis a long look at third base and upgrade in other areas.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Zero percent

Boston Red Sox

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    The Boston Red Sox certainly had their chances to contend this year, if not for the epic collapse in September that ultimately doomed them to a winter of discontent.

    There will certainly be upheaval in an organization that has already seen the departure of their manager and general manager, and no doubt whoever takes over baseball operations will take a long, hard look at the current roster and make necessary changes.

    However, with Adrian Gonzalez firmly ensconced at first base, and Prince Fielder’s stated desire not to serve as a designated hitter, the Red Sox will clearly be looking to upgrade in other areas.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Zero percent

Chicago Cubs

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    It’s almost a done deal that the Chicago Cubs will be announcing Theo Epstein as their next general manager, and Epstein will be tasked with some heavy baseball decisions as soon as the ink dries on his contract.

    Cubs owner Tom Ricketts will no doubt give Epstein complete autonomy to do what he feels best, and Epstein will no doubt take a hard look at Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols.

    The Cubs have long been rumored to covet Pujols, however, there is no guarantee that Pujols is leaving the St. Louis Cardinals, and much more of a chance that the Brewers will not sign Fielder.

    Chances of signing Fielder: 21 percent

Chicago White Sox

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    The Chicago White Sox already have a pretty good first base option in Paul Konerko, who once again put together a spectacular season, with 31 HR, 105 RBI and a .300 batting average.

    Konerko is the face of the franchise, and under contract for two more seasons. With Juan Pierre likely headed out of town, GM Kenny Williams will be looking to upgrade in the outfield, not at first base.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Zero percent

Cincinnati Reds

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    There seems to be an awful lot of talk out of Cincinnati regarding the possibility of the Reds trading 2010 NL MVP Award winner Joey Votto. So much so in fact that Reds’ GM Walt Jocketty issued a statement, saying that the Reds were not entertaining offers for Votto, and would not in the future.

    "I'm not interested in that. To have a player who's one of the best hitters in the game—and we try to build our offense around him—I'd be more inclined to sign him long-term if we could beyond 2013 season," Jocketty told USA Today.

    So, that puts to rest that thought.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Zero percent

Cleveland Indians

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    The Cleveland Indians have recently been discussing the possibility of a tandem at first base, with catcher Carlos Santana and Shelley Duncan. Duncan closed the season strong, with seven homers and 24 RBI over his last 33 games, so he could very well get a look at first in spring training.

    The Indians have long discussed extending Santana’s career by giving him more starts at first base to take the pressure off his knees, and Matt LaPorta will likely have to earn playing time all over again.

    While the Indians would no doubt love to sign Prince Fielder, they simply don’t have the resources, and it’s been quite a while since they’ve pulled off a deal to sign any player to a lucrative contract, opting in recent years to shed two former Cy Young Award winners, CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee.

    Don’t look for the Indians to change their spending ways anytime soon.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Zero percent

Colorado Rockies

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    As intriguing as the thought of Prince Fielder hitting in Colorado might sound, that way of thinking should stop right now.

    With the Rockies signing both Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to long-term contracts recently, they have a LOT of money tied up in two terrific athletes for a number of years.

    Yes, Aaron Cook’s money is coming off the books, and Todd Helton will make about $15 million less next season. However, the Rockies will be looking to upgrade their pitching, which is much more of a need at this point in time.

    Chances of signing Fielder: One percent

Detroit Tigers

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    Unless the Detroit Tigers plan on moving Miguel Cabrera, which certainly appears HIGHLY unlikely, signing Prince Fielder to play in Motown has a zero probability of coming to fruition.

    At 28 years of age, Cabrera, who just won the AL batting title, figures to be settled in the Detroit lineup for years to come, along with a lineup that made it all the way to the ALCS before falling to the Texas Rangers.

    Some tweaks will be made during the offseason by GM Dave Dombrowski, more than likely at second and third base and the starting rotation, but certainly not at first base.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Zero percent

Florida Marlins

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    I’m actually going to give the Marlins a slight, and I do mean slight, chance of signing a quality free agent, however it’s likely that free agent will NOT be Prince Fielder.

    With their move to a new ballpark, a new team name and a new manager, the Marlins will be looking to make a splash during the offseason. They could possibly make a play for Jose Reyes, but with Gaby Sanchez manning first, who the Marlins are very happy with, Fielder will not be taking his talents to South Beach.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Zero percent

Houston Astros

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    With a new owner coming in (assuming Jim Crane is finally approved), the edict has gone out to cut payroll to around $60 million, down from the 2011 number of $71 million.

    The Astros certainly have a lot of needs, and the new GM (assuming Ed Wade won’t be back) will be tasked with fielding a team that can be an upgrade over the 2010 version that lost 106 games. It just won’t involve signing Prince Fielder.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Zero percent

Kansas City Royals

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    The Kansas City Royals have done a great job in developing home grown talent, and the 2011 season was no exception. First baseman Eric Hosmer will likely get Rookie of the Year Award consideration after hitting .293 with 19 HR and 78 RBI.

    The Royals will continue developing prospects while occasionally signing mid-level free agents, which certainly leaves Prince Fielder out of the equation.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Zero percent

Los Angeles Angels

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    The Los Angeles Angels were certainly wondering what they would do at first base this past season, with the lingering ankle issues of Kendrys Morales and the uncertainty of rookie Mark Trumbo. However, Trumbo responded, hitting .254 with 29 HR and 87 RBI, the best production for an Angels rookie since Tim Salmon in 1993.

    The new GM of the Angels, whoever that may be, will be tasked with vastly improving an offense that was inconsistent all year long. Saddled with high-priced aging veterans, they will need to be creative in revamping the current roster. Could that possibly include signing Prince Fielder? Not likely.

    Chances of signing Fielder: One percent

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Just because the Los Angeles Dodgers are in bankrupt mode doesn’t mean they won’t be shopping this winter.

    With the news that Frank and Jamie McCourt have reached an agreement in their divorce, Frank McCourt is now free to battle MLB commissioner Bud Selig for control of the team. In the meantime, it will be business as usual in LA, and GM Ned Colletti will be looking to upgrade.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Five percent

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Obviously, much of the discussion surrounding Prince Fielder is that he played his last game in a Brewers’ uniform on Sunday night in the NLCS Game 6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. But did he really?

    Yes, the chances of Fielder returning to Milwaukee are probably slim, but it doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The Brewers’ payroll at the beginning of 2011 was around $85 million, and with their recent signing of Ryan Braun to a long-term extension, and commitments they have made to Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart, combined with efforts to sign Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum long-term, GM Doug Melvin may not have the money available to fork over to Fielder.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Seven percent

Minnesota Twins

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    The Minnesota Twins have two superstars, in Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, who have struggled to stay on the field over the course of the last two seasons. Morneau is still struggling with concussion symptoms, and there is no guarantee he can recover enough to return to earlier form.

    The Twins still owe Morneau $28 million over the next two seasons, and combined with the lucrative contract signed by Mauer, it’s highly unlikely the Twins would be in a position to pay Fielder. And they likely have a first baseman in Mauer if Morneau can’t return to form.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Zero percent

New York Mets

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    The owners of the New York Mets got good news recently, when a federal judge ruled that Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz cannot be held liable for more than $380 million in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. That’s a FAR cry from the over $1 billion lawyers had been seeking originally.

    However, that’s still a boatload of cash that needs to be kept in reserve by Wilpon and Katz in the event that they find themselves on the losing end of the pending litigation. Money that could certainly be used to sign Prince Fielder AND Jose Reyes to nice long-term deals.

    However, don’t put anything past the Mets quite yet. They could still make a play.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Four percent

New York Yankees

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    Can you really put anything past the New York Yankees? Just when you think first baseman Mark Teixeira has a deal with the Boston Red Sox, in swooped the Yankees with a better boatload of cash.

    Teixeira certainly provided plenty of production, with 39 HR and 111 RBI, but did so with a .248 batting average. And Teixeira was absolutely anemic for the second postseason series in a row, hitting just .167 against the Detroit Tigers after going 0-for-2010 ALCS. Fielder only hit .200 in the just-finished NLCS, but at least provided production with a couple of homers.

    I’m not suggesting that GM Brian Cashman should ship Teixeira out of town, and with his salary it would be a bit tough in any event, but the Yankees have the resources to pull off just about anything they want, so one never knows.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Six percent

Oakland Athletics

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    The Oakland Athletics will no doubt be looking for an upgrade at first base, after Daric Barton flopped in the 2011 season, and Brandon Allen, acquired in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks, hit just .205 in 41 games.

    However, it is highly unlikely that GM Billy Beane would make that much of a splash during the offseason, especially with current stadium woes faced by ownership and the threat of moving to another city hanging over their heads.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Two percent

Philadelphia Phillies

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    With Ryan Howard likely to miss the first month or two of the 2012 regular season while recovering from Achilles heel surgery, why not sign Prince Fielder to take his place?

    That’s what I’ve actually read on a couple of online forums.

    While it sounds ridiculous on its face, the Phillies are in fact one team that does have the resources to sign Fielder, but they will likely use that money to upgrade in other areas. With Raul Ibanez and Brad Lidge coming off the books next season, the Phillies will have some money to spend, but it likely won’t be for first base.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Two percent

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    The Pittsburgh Pirates were the talk of the town, in fact the talk of the entire country, after they found themselves at the top of the NL Central Division for a very brief period of time in late July. The Pirates were even in “buy” mode for the first time in 19 years, acquiring first baseman Derrek Lee and outfielder Ryan Ludwick at the trade deadline.

    The Pirates quickly collapsed, but they have clearly shown that they are a franchise headed in the right direction. GM Neal Huntington, with his new contract extension safely tucked away, will be looking to make moves to improve upon the successes seen last season, albeit for just a few months.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Three percent

San Diego Padres

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    The San Diego Padres shipped Adrian Gonzalez out of town last year, knowing that they wouldn’t be able to sign him. They likely will have issues trying to sign closer Heath Bell, even though he has stated he will take a hometown discount and his overall desire to stay in San Diego.

    Signing Prince Fielder is simply not an option.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Zero percent

San Francisco Giants

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    There should be no question in anyone’s mind that the San Francisco Giants will be major players in the free agent market during the offseason. New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes has been just one of the names rumored to be headed to the Bay Area, and he may not be the only one.

    With the Giants’ offense coming in dead last in runs scored, they could very well be looking at options other than Reyes, and Fielder’s name will likely come up quite a bit.

    Chances of signing Fielder: 15 percent

Seattle Mariners

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    The Seattle Mariners have had issues finding a solid first baseman in recent years, and while they’ve given Justin Smoak the opportunity to win the position, he hasn’t exactly shined. The Mariners will wipe about $18.5 million off the books between both Carlos Silva and Milton Bradley, so they have money to spend.

    Whether or not they have enough to lure Prince Fielder to the Northwest remains to be seen, but with a very rich Japanese ownership backing them, who knows?

    Chances of signing Fielder: Six percent

St. Louis Cardinals

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    While it seems highly improbable that the St. Louis Cardinals would pass on signing their own free agent, Albert Pujols, in favor of Prince Fielder, stranger things have happened.

    The thinking here is that the Cardinals will pony up to sign Pujols. He has been the face of the franchise for over a decade, he still produces big time, and the Cardinals would clearly benefit at the box office as Pujols starts to approach career milestones.

    They could end up bidding for Fielder if they can’t sign Pujols, but unlikely.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Three percent

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Have you ever watched that show on Home and Garden TV (HGTV), Design on a Dime? That is essentially how Tampa Bay Rays general manager Andrew Friedman has worked with the Rays during his tenure.

    This past offseason, the Rays lost Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour, and dealt Matt Garza to the Chicago Cubs. Yet, they still made the postseason. Unreal.

    The likelihood that the Rays will suddenly open up their wallets and sign Prince Fielder? Even more unreal.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Zero percent

Texas Rangers

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    The Texas Rangers are headed to the World Series for the second consecutive year, and are doing it with a team with a stacked offense, solid starting pitching and an outstanding bullpen.

    The Rangers have become a team that is not afraid to make moves to improve their ballclub. During the offseason, they swooped in and scooped up third baseman Adrian Beltre for six years and $96 million. They were aggressive at the trade deadline, acquiring Mike Adams, Koju Uehara and Mike Gonzalez. Now they’re just four games away from bringing the World Series trophy back to Texas for the first time in team history (while in Texas, that is).

    Could they be bold and sign Prince Fielder this offseason, even with a lineup that appears solid top to bottom? Well, they’ve certainly shown they’re clearly not afraid to continue improving, for sure.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Seven percent

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is entering his third offseason, and he has clearly shown a method to his overall style. Anthopoulos worked on revamping the roster over the first two seasons, and is now looking to add pieces to what he believes is a solid core. Whether or not that happens in free agency however will be determined by value, not price.

    "There are a lot of good players out there in free agency," Anthopoulos said. "Again, it has to line up. I guess the best way to explain it is, we like a lot of players, but we like them at a certain price."

    The long and short of that statement? Look for Anthopoulos to make deals this offseason, but probably not throwing $200 million or more at one player.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Two percent

Washington Nationals

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    The Washington Nationals could be a very intriguing team this offseason in terms of what they may or may not do. Armed with a good young corps of players (Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Wilson Ramos, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard), a highly touted prospect, in Bryce Harper, who could be ready for the big time late in 2012, the Nationals are not far from contending.

    They’ve also got some money, and clearly won’t be afraid to spend it. With the allure of their young nucleus, Washington suddenly doesn’t look like a bad place to play at all.

    Chances of signing Fielder: Fifteen percent


    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.