Name: Prince Fielder.
Position: First base.
Vital Statistics: Age-28; Height-5’11″; Listed Weight-275; Actual weight-more than 275; Drafted in the 1st round (7th pick) by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2002 MLB Draft.
Agent: Scott Boras.
Chances of returning to the Brewers: None whatsoever.
Teams that could use and pay him: Boston Red Sox; New York Yankees; Toronto Blue Jays; Baltimore Orioles; Minnesota Twins; Texas Rangers; Los Angeles Angels; Seattle Mariners; Washington Nationals; Florida Marlins; Chicago Cubs; Los Angeles Dodgers.
He has massive power and patience; a fiery competitor; he’s intense and hits or walks in the clutch.
Fielder will hit his home runs wherever he goes and draws plenty of walks. For a power hitter in today’s game, he doesn’t strike out that much—135 a year is reasonable in comparison to the likes of Ryan Howard.
His intensity and on-field confrontational nature is a dual-edged sword; it indicates a simmering anger, but it fuels him.
Put him in a batting order with a good hitter in front and major protection behind him and he’d put up bigger numbers than he did in Milwaukee.
His weight—listed at 275—hasn’t been as much of an issue as it would be with a player who actually has to move. He’s supposedly a vegan, which I find very strange. Mike Tyson was over 300 lbs, became a vegan and slimmed down to fighting trim; Fielder became a vegan and got bigger.
For a player who relies on speed or attributes related to his size, it would be a problem; Fielder doesn’t. Stress on his knees will be a concern if he gets heavier and a fat contract can contribute to a fat player getting fatter, but Fielder will always hit his homers and walk. A club has to and will accept this when signing him.
Can he DH? Is he willing to DH? It’s not as easy as it sounds. While he’s a better hitter than Adam Dunn, Dunn couldn’t adjust to DHing or the American League and was a disaster with the White Sox—no one could’ve anticipated it.
It’s a super-small sample and I’m not dissecting it for pitchers, ballparks and other factors, but Fielder is 18 for 78 in his career as a DH with 3 homers and a .295 on base percentage. It’s not something to ignore.
Fielder won’t want to DH regularly and his defense is bad and going to get worse. He catches the balls he can get to; he’s quicker than he looks, but he’s not, nor will he ever be, a good defensive first baseman.
What he’ll want: 8-years, $190 million.
What he’ll get: 6-years, $148 million guaranteed with an easy option to raise it to 7-years, $173 million.
There will be a player opt-out mid-stream and a guarantee the team that signs him won’t offer arbitration at the contract’s conclusion so he won’t cost a compensatory draft pick (if that rule is still in existence).
Teams that might give it to him: Orioles, Blue Jays, Mariners, Rangers, Cubs.
I’m not predicting where he’s going to go; nor will I do so with other free agents aside from the most obvious ones like Albert Pujols—the obvious ones tend to stay where they are or have ties to a particular club pursuing them.
If you look at the predictions for Jayson Werth a year ago, no one had him going to the Nationals; most “mainstream insiders” had him signing with the Angels, Red Sox, Giants or Yankees and they were all wrong.
Cliff Lee was just about guaranteed to be a Yankee and no one considered the Phillies.
Werth wound up with the Nationals for $126 million—an amount of cash that aghast the industry.
Lee went back to the team with which he was comfortable, the Phillies, for less money than the Yankees offered.
Would I sign Fielder if I were a GM? No.
Will it be a “bad” signing for the club that does pay him? No. He’ll produce as long as they know what they’re getting and put him in the right circumstances.