2012 MLB Free Agents: How Prince Fielder's Contract Will Affect Tigers

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IJanuary 25, 2012

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 14:  Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers looks on against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Five of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium on October 14, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

It's always nice to land a slugger like Prince Fielder...right?

Well, maybe not.

When the Detroit Tigers signed Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million deal on Tuesday, they set themselves up to be AL Central champs in 2012.

But not only do the Tigers have some questionable pieces throughout the rest of the roster, the signing of Fielder has the potential to hurt them in the long run, as Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk details.

For one, ace Justin Verlander is set for a hefty extension before the end of the 2014 season. You also have 33-year-old catcher Victor Martinez, who will miss this season after undergoing knee surgery. He's due to make $13 million in 2013 and $12 million in 2014.

With Fielder's massive deal, you not only hurt yourself financially as far as adding to the team, the Tigers may not be set up to win a World Series anyway.

Aside from Verlander, the Tigers' pitching is questionable. Max Scherzer followed up a solid 2010 with a disappointing 2011, posting a 4.43 ERA. Doug Fister was a great midseason addition in 2011, but I worry about Rick Porcello, who posted a 4.75 ERA.

The interesting thing about the Fielder signing is that the Tigers scored the fourth-most runs in the majors last season, but had a mediocre 4.04 ERA as a team. They actually aren't addressing a weakness at all.

So, you could make the argument that not only does the Fielder signing hurt them in the long term, it still doesn't address their primary need in the short term. Perhaps the Tigers will simply try to outscore opponents, but that rarely gets teams far.

The Texas Rangers, for example, only got to the World Series the past two seasons because they finally landed some top pitching. They had a good offense for years before that with disappointing results. In fact, you could legitimately point to the Fielder deal resembling the Rangers' Alex Rodriguez deal in 2000.

Fielder is a great hitter, don't get me wrong. I understand why dollar signs were buzzing around him this offseason. But in my mind this actually hurts the Tigers more than it helps them if they are trying to construct a champion.

It also shows ineptitude exists in the Tigers front office.

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