MLB Free Agency: Top Five Best Landing Spots for Prince Fielder

Nikhil BaradwajSenior Analyst INovember 7, 2011

MLB Free Agency: Top Five Best Landing Spots for Prince Fielder

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    Prince Fielder has become one of the preeminent sluggers of the past half-decade, crushing 230 home runs during his seven-year career as a Milwaukee Brewer. Entering the 2011 offseason, Fielder is one of the top three potential free agents, along with Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols.

    This article assesses the top five destinations for Fielder, not the most likely places he will land. For the purposes of this list, market size and a team payroll are not taken into consideration, therefore not limiting small market teams from the top five.

No. 5: Milwaukee Brewers

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    Why It Makes Sense

    The Brewers have a strong young pitching trio mad up of Yovani Gollardo, Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum. In addition, Milwaukee has two great hitters (outfielders Corey Hart and Ryan Braun) locked up, along with power-hitting shortstop Rickie Weeks.

    With these pieces in place, the Brewers look like they will contend in the NL Central for the next few years, even with one of the worst farm systems in the league.

    Why It Doesn't

    In Fielder’s seven-year stint with the team, the Milwaukee Brewers have made the playoffs twice.They've only made the playoffs three times in the past thirty years. Fielder may want to head to a franchise more akin to winning.

    When healthy, teams like the Phillies and Cardinals are much better than the Brewers at this point. While the Brewers can contend in the NL Central, they will struggle to beat a juggernaut like Philadelphia, even with Fielder on the team.

No. 4: Cleveland Indians

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    Why It Makes Sense

    The Indians have made it clear they want to win right now, after trading two of their top prospects in Drew Pomeranz and Alex White for Ubaldo Jimenez. If Jimenez can live up to his potential, the Indians might have their first true ace since the Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia era.

    In addition, the Indians have a bevy of young hitters like Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana, along with future blue chippers in their farm system. Putting Fielder in the middle of this lineup would give the Indians a much needed power hitter to put in the four hole.

    Why It Doesn't

    While Cleveland does have many young players who are coming up soon, and a few blossoming in the major league right now, the Indians seem to be a few years away from actually contending for a World Series crown.

    The Rangers and Yankees look head and shoulders above the Indians at this point. After their torrid 21-8 start to the season, the Indians stumbled to an 80-82 record. Was that hot start a fluke?

No. 3: Texas Rangers

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    Why It Makes Sense

    It is shocking to think that the Rangers could actually improve their lineup without taking away playing time from one of their better hitters. Prince Fielder would be a huge upgrade over their current first baseman, Mitch Moreland.

    Fielder would thrive in a batting order including Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre in the middle of the order.

    With strong young pitching in Alexei Ogando, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and a thriving farm system, the Rangers look like they will be the crème of the crop in the AL West in the coming years.

    Why It Doesn't

    The Rangers' major weakness isn't grabbing a power hitter, but actually finding an ace who can lead this staff back to the World Series.

    While Texas came so close to winning their first championship in franchise history, they were stifled by Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter and saw their own ace, CJ Wilson, struggle mightily in Game 7. 

    This help may come through their farm system's own Chris Perez and the Rangers are likely to save their money and prospects unless a chance to acquire an elite starting pitcher arises.

No. 2: San Francisco Giants

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    Why It Makes Sense

    Although the Giants won the World Series last year, their offense struggled down the stretch in 2011, even with the additions of Jeff Keppinger and Carlos Beltran.

    We all know about the Giants' strong pitching rotation, but Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Brian Vogelsong and company can’t always pitch flawlessly.

    With Fielder in the Giants' lineup, San Francisco will have a top slugger for the first time since Barry Bonds, flanked by two good young hitters in Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval.

    Why It Doesn't

    The Giants high profile signings have struggled greatly in AT&T Park's spacious settings. For example, Aaron Rowand came off a career year in Philadelphia with 27 HRs and 89 RBIs. After arriving in San Francisco, Rowand had 28 HRs combined in his next two years, and lost his starting job to Andres Torres.

    Based on ESPN's Park Factors, AT&T ranks as the worst park in terms of HRs, while 14th best in terms of doubles. Fielder should be ready for his numbers to take a slight hit.

No. 1: New York Yankees

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    Why It Makes Sense

    Even though they didn’t say it, the Yankees were shocked by the Red Sox haul last year. Jorge Posada and Andruw Jones are nowhere near the stature and prowess of Fielder and proved to be weak links throughout the season.

    The Yankees pitchers surprised many with the 4th best team ERA in the AL. With young arms like Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, the staff will only improve with time.

    With Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Prince Fielder in the heart of their lineup, the Bronx Bombers would possess by far the top batting order in the league.

    Why It Doesn't

    Spending over $150 million on a DH, even for the Yankees, is unprecedented and maybe superfluous. The Yankees don't really need Fielder and should probably go after a pitcher like CJ Wilson, who could be a solid No. 2 pitcher for the next few years, until Banuelos and Betances come up and develop.

    While Fielder could be a solid cog in the Yankees lineup, he may also want to continue playing first base instead of taking a permanent DH role.