Prince Fielder will not be back with the Brewers.
And I don’t want to hear how he’d “love” to stay in Milwaukee; if he truly wants to stay in Milwaukee, I’m sure he could find a way to live on the $100 million or whatever amount of deranged sum they offer. Part of the reason players generally shun their original, mid-market home is due to union pressure to take the largest offer; and that they want to outdo their peers in terms of zeroes on the check.
It’s the same form of egomania that was evident in Moneyball as Billy Beane wants a monetary value on what it is he does. (And what it is he does is becoming increasingly mysterious as time passes; it’s an existential question: what does Billy Beane do? I dunno—he’s becoming Kim Kardashian; he’s famous and we don’t really know why.)
You can forget about the Yankees and Red Sox being in on Fielder despite fan greed about bringing in another $140 million bat. Fielder won’t want to DH, the Yankees have a first baseman and don’t want to clog up the DH spot with another immobile body and onerous contract. They have to re-sign CC Sabathia and/or bring in some better starting pitching.
With the Red Sox, owner John Henry openly regretted the Carl Crawford contract and expressed his wariness at the whole free agent process—do you really think they’re going to bring in an $140 million DH? Really? They, like the Yankees, need pitching.
With that established, let’s handicap and eliminate Fielder’s possible landing spots based on who could use him and who can afford him.
Teams that could use him, but can’t pay him.
Oakland Athletics: It’s pretty funny (no, it’s very funny) that Fielder was singled out in Moneyball as being “too fat” for the team that was portrayed as openly looking for fat players, and Fielder wound up being the most productive bat in the draft.
He’s not going to Oakland and it’s not because of the ballpark or that he doesn’t appreciate the value of being around “genius”; it’s because they can’t pay him.
Pittsburgh Pirates: After their mid-summer flirtation with contention, it only took a few short weeks for whatever spell had been aiding them to wear off and they reverted back into being…the Pirates.
They were 14th in runs scored in the National League in 2011, but they’re supposedly about to ridiculously repeat the same mistake they made with Matt Capps (they non-tendered him) and decline the option on a useful arm in Paul Maholm.
Um, he’s a guy you can trade, y’know? Sort of the way the Nationals traded Capps for a starting catcher they’ll have for the next 10 years in Wilson Ramos? Get it?
Why would anyone with options want to go to Pittsburgh?
San Francisco Giants: There’s a bit of an upheaval and apparent tightening of the pursestrings with Bill Neukom forced out as CEO. They’re more likely to keep Carlos Beltran than bring in any difference-making free agent. They also have to sign Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson in the coming years, so forget Fielder.
San Diego Padres: They just traded a better all-around player in Adrian Gonzalez because they weren’t going to be able to pay him, so it would make zero sense to sign Fielder.
Teams that could use him, pay him and won’t pursue him.
Los Angeles Angels: The Vernon Wells contract is now their problem and it got Tony Reagins ousted. They have two first basemen with Mark Trumbo, the (hopefully) returning Kendrys Morales and Fielder doesn’t want to DH. I would expect them to pursue a trade for the likes of David Wright or chase Jose Reyes instead of jumping in on Fielder.
Chicago Cubs: Theo Epstein has enough problems; they’ve got Carlos Pena, who’s okay; and you can find a first baseman relatively easily.
Baltimore Orioles: Buck Showalter is running things and prefers to have a more versatile, defensively-balanced club with interchangeable parts. Offense wasn’t the Orioles problem, the pitching was.
Teams that could pay him, use him and go after him.
Washington Nationals: Are they agent Scott Boras’s new “go-to guys”? He somehow managed to get them to give Jayson Werth $126 million, are looking to make a splash and rapid leap into contention and have the money.
Adam LaRoche is owed a guaranteed $9 million, but missed most of the 2011 season; the Nats desperately need a bat; they’re better off going after Reyes, but don’t discount them on Fielder.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The McCourts are now divorced and Frank has the Dodgers; but the legal red tape requires a machete to cut through and they have to sign Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier and must begin considering locking up Clayton Kershaw.
I don’t see Fielder going to the Dodgers, but they spent last winter when no one thought they had any money; they have to be considered.
Seattle Mariners: They were last in the AL in runs scored. It’s ironic that the double-dealing they pulled on the Yankees with Cliff Lee looks like they wound up with a worse deal from the Rangers. Will ownership interfere and force GM Jack Zduriencik to keep Ichiro Suzuki rather than look for a legitimate offensive force like Fielder?
Zduriencik drafted Fielder with the Brewers.
They do have the money to sign him and their young pitching can’t go on with a team that simply doesn’t score any runs.
Florida Marlins: They’re repeatedly referenced as teams that are going to go all-in for players in free agency. Albert Pujols has been talked about, but he’s not leaving the Cardinals. One drawback of the Marlins pursuing and getting Fielder would be the homers he’d hit in Florida would be accompanied by this monstrosity.
Here’s my guess: Fielder goes to Seattle for 7-years and $148 million.