Prince Fielder and the Seattle Mariners: What It Would Mean and How It'd Work
King Felix pitching to Prince Fielder—now that would be an exciting at-bat, but one that most Mariners fans would like to avoid if possible. And the only way to ensure that it never occurs is to bring Fielder to Seattle!
It is hard at this point to gauge where Fielder is on his free-agent status. There are a few certainties: he won't go the Angels, the Marlins or the Brewers, but there is not much else we can say for sure.
A poll taken by MLB Trade Rumors indicated that fans think Fielder will go to the Cubs, with the Mariners a relatively distant second. That is simply a collection of opinions of a random group of fans, but at this point, Chicago and Seattle seem to be the two most likely destinations for Fielder.
The Cubs are on an upswing and lack a hitter of Fielder's caliber. First base is essentially open, and it would be an opportunity to stay in the NL.
The Mariners have money to spend and a serious hitting problem that requires immediate fixing. They also have a very young lineup that could greatly benefit from a veteran addition.
So, the first question is: how would it work?
Well, it's inevitable that Fielder will be looking for a lengthy, pricey offer, especially after Pujols' monster 10-year, $254 million contract. He's four years younger than Pujols, so a contract similar in length isn't unreasonable. Fielder might draw in a little bit less cash though, just because he isn't Pujols, who takes the cake for the best player in baseball right now.
If Fielder did sign with the M's, he'd likely DH, with Justin Smoak staying at first. Fielder has never shown anything special in the field, so a switch to a 100 percent hitting role would maximize his value (he consistently puts up negative dWAR values).
Lots of people argue that Fielder would not be interested in heading to Seattle since they've been sitting at the bottom of the AL West for the past two years, but what they don't realize is how close the M's are to being contenders.
That brings us to our second question: what would it mean?
The AL West just became a much tougher division with the addition of Pujols to the Angels, and the twice-robbed Rangers will remain a threat, but the Mariners are going to hit a huge growth period this season.
They have a lot of fresh, talented players who will be manning the starting lineup this year, and a potentially devastating starting pitching rotation comprised of Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda, Jason Vargas, hopefully Danny Hultzen and soon James Paxton.
The past few years have been slow, but Jack Z's scheme is kicking into gear this year, and the Mariners are going to surge up in the standings in 2012, taking attendance levels and revenues with them.
Where will Prince Fielder go?
Speaking of attendance levels and revenues, if Prince came to Seattle, both would skyrocket. The current franchise player, Ichiro Suzuki, may be on his way out coming off a sub-par season and heading into the last year of his contract.
Dustin Ackley could move in as the new face of the Mariners, but if Prince Fielder showed up in Peoria in February, I think he might attract the majority of the attention. The loyal, loving Mariners fanbase would undoubtedly embrace Fielder as one of their own, especially if he was set to play in Seattle for an extended period of time.
I have no doubts that the player community would give Fielder an equally warm welcome along with Jack Z and the rest of the management.
SAFECO Field is no Coors Field, but Fielder's left-handed pull-power would still be a lethal threat in the heart of the batting order. Some have expressed concerns that Fielder would sit unprotected in the middle of such a previously decrepit batting order, but I disagree.
Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak and Mike Carp are all going to have breakout years in 2012.
It will be Ackley's first full season, and he looked great at the end of last year. Smoak has yet to get a fair trial for a full season battling injury, bereavement and inconsistency. And Carp, who was relegated to Quadruple-A for an unseemly four years before he broke into the majors to stay, should be a "protective" power asset who could sit behind Fielder in the order.
I'm pretty confident that Fielder would fit in nicely in Seattle, and Jack Z has the money at his disposal to reel this big fish in (not Mike Carp here...), so it's just a matter of whether or not the Prince desires to serve in King Felix's court. And as long as it's okay with Jerry and Larry Bernandez.
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