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Updating the Prince Fielder market: Cubs, Nats, Jays

Jan 1, 2012, 8:59 AM EDT

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Newsday‘s Ken Davidoff has some fresh insight on the eerily silent Prince Fielder sweepstakes.

Fielder “wanted the Cubs” because he has superb career numbers at Wrigley Field, and the two Chicago airports provide easy access (i.e. direct flights) to his Florida home. But, as we’ve addressed already on this blog, the Northsiders are in full rebuilding mode under new president Theo Epstein.

The Nationals had some interest, and might still be lingering, but they’ve turned “a little gun-shy” after dishing out a seven-year, $126 million contract last offseason to overall disappointment Jayson Werth.

Many have suggested that the Blue Jays might be the darkhorse, but they “won’t commit beyond five years.”

In other words, it’s anyone’s guess as to where Fielder will ultimately end up. But it’s now January 2012, and it’s probably closing in on crunch time for super-agent Scott Boras and his big fish client.

Fielder, 27, owns a .929 career OPS and slugged 38 home runs alongside a .299/.415/.566 slash line last year for Milwaukee. He’s thought to be seeking a deal similar to what Albert Pujols got from the Angels.

  1. proudlycanadian - Jan 1, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Time for the famous mystery team.

    As far as the Jays are concerned, why would they give Fielder a better contract than Bautista? Bautista is the team leader and is a far better baseball player than Fielder.

    • Kevin S. - Jan 1, 2012 at 10:06 AM

      A) Bautista didn’t sign his deal as a free agent, and thus lacked the leverage Fielder has, B) Bautista’s been doing his thing for two years and a month – Fielder has a much longer track record, and C) Fielder is actually younger now than Bautista was when he signed his extension last year.

      • proudlycanadian - Jan 1, 2012 at 10:36 AM

        Bautista was 1 year away from free agency when he signed his deal. and has since outplayed his contract. He is in better shape than Fielder and much more likely to perform at a high level during the life of his contract.

        Fielder strikes me as a person who is out for himself rather than his team. Once a person like that gets the big fat contract, the incentive to perform is significantly reduced.

        The Jays were also burned by the Vernon Wells contract. Wells was and is a fine person, but once he signed for the big bucks, his performance declined. Why would the Jays risk a repeat of the Wells situation?

      • uyf1950 - Jan 1, 2012 at 10:44 AM

        proudlycanadian – without risk there is no reward.

      • Old Gator - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:13 PM

        uyf: without intelligent risk, there’s disaster. Yes, Fielder is younger, but Bautista is in much better shape. He’s a lean, mean baseball machine. Fielder is a Weeble with mighty arms and pecs. I would not be surprised to see Bautista still in the game, even as a productive journeyman, in seven or eight years while Fielder has since retired to his rocking chair with pins in his knees and hips and more clips and stitches around his joints that Frankenstein’s monster had around his.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:53 PM

        Old Gator – Why does it seem that the comparisons are between Bautista or Fielder. Why is it one or the other? They don’t even play the same positions.

        BTW, it would seem to me that there is less risk in investing in Fielder then the Jays were willing to invest in Darvish. When you figure what it would have cost (posting fee and a 6 year deal). Considering Darvish has absolutely NO MLB experience, not 1 inning. I realize Fielder will probably cost a bit more in time and dollars but at least for the next few years you have a pretty good indication of what you can expect out of Fielder. That’s not true at all with Darvish.

      • Old Gator - Jan 1, 2012 at 1:29 PM

        I’m not a fan of these ridiculous bids on Darvish either. Fifty million on a guy who’s never proven anything over here? Sheesh. But the problem with Fielder is that he’s looking for a ten year contract and he’s so out of shape that I wouldn’t want to risk that kind of money on someone who’s very liable to be a habitué of the DL within just a few more years. It has nothing to do with their respective fielding positions because any AL team who wanted to endanger their budget for the rest of the decade on one tub of lard would be crazy to use him as anything but a DH anyway.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 1, 2012 at 1:57 PM

        Old Gator – he or shall I say Boras could ask for 10 years or 15 years. The real issue is will he get it. It never hurts to ask. He may have to wind up settling for say 7 years or even 6 who knows.

        Since fans are drawing comparisons. In my opinion unfair ones. Would you rather have Fielder at 7 years for say $20MM per or Ryan Howard at 5 years and $25MM per. Keeping in mind Howard will be 36 in the last year of that contract. Whereas Fielder would be 34 during the last year of a 7 year contract. This is just my opinion but I think Fielder is the better value there.

      • chadjones27 - Jan 1, 2012 at 3:46 PM

        Ryan Howard will be in better shape at 36 than Fielder will at 34. And since Ryan Howard is in the National League (no DL), I think I’d take Howard. So, if some AL team is looking for a highly paid DL in 4-6 years, then Fielder is a good choice. And since we’re on the subject of Ryan Howard, his $25 mil doesn’t start till the 2014 season.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 1, 2012 at 4:04 PM

        chadjones27 – true about the $’s. But the reality is that the Phillies aren’t going to pick up Howard’s $23MM 2017 option and will pay him his $10MM buyout. That effectively makes the first 2 years of his contract $25MM per not $20MM. At least that’s the way MLB luxury tax works. It uses a players AAV to calculate it. In Howard’s or what will be Howard’s case 5yrs/$125MM = $25MM per.

        One final comment why do you assume that Fielder won’t be playing 1st base in say the 4th year of a 6 year deal? There is absolutely evidence to support that supposition in Howard’s case.

        I have no horse in this race either between Bautista, Howard or Fielder. It just seems to me that posters here are making all sorts of assumptions and comparisons as they relate to Prince Fielder with no personal knowledge about him or his health to support those claims.

      • Kevin S. - Jan 1, 2012 at 4:07 PM

        How does not having the DH as an option make Howard better – there’s no fallback for him if he can’t handle the field anymore. And there’s the little fact that he’s just not nearly as good as Prince Fielder.

      • chadjones27 - Jan 1, 2012 at 4:23 PM

        How does the luxury tax have anything to do with it? You’re argument was about whether taking Fielder at $20M per year over 7 years or Howard at $25M/year over 5. I only mentioned Howards contract because you made the inference of him being paid $25M every year, which he does not. And most of the back and forth with Old Gator was in relation to his (Fielder’s) physical shape then you brought Howard into the mix. Well, Howard is in better physical shape than Fielder and will, more than likely, be in better physical shape. I would rather have Howard, who can not be hidden on the bench as a DH, than Fielder, who’s body may or may not break down quicker.
        I can’t see any team breaking the bank and giving a long (> 5years) term deal for Fielder. there’s risk. You’re right, I have no personal knowledge of Fielder’s shape, however, as a fan, I can make the assumption that a person of his large stature would be more inclined to break down sooner than someone who was leaner with more muscle mass.
        If you believe Fielder is the better choice, fine.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 1, 2012 at 5:46 PM

        The luxury tax has nothing to do with it other than to explain how MLB calculates a players salary. Howard signed a 5 year $125MM contract. That starts this year 2012 and runs through the 2016 season. Slice it dice it any way you want Howard makes on average $25MM per year, period. It will cost the Phillies if they do not pick up his 2017 option at the age of 37 for $23MM. A nice round $125MM for 5 years of service, like I said that’s $25MM per year.

        Now if you would rather have Howard that’s your choice. Realizing that this season coming up starts his new contract and his numbers for the last 3 years have been in decline and he’s only just starting that contact. His BA, OBP, SLG%, OPS and OPS+ are all at 3 year lows.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 1, 2012 at 7:02 PM

        I don’t know how Ryan Howard got into this conversation…but, Fielder is 4 years younger than Ryan and Albert, but, admittedly, he is a fat out of shape fuck. If he were in any type of shape, he would probably already have received multiple 8 year $200 million dollar offers at his age and production. But again, two words…fat fuck.

        Fielder should take a 3 year deal for $75 million, run on a treadmill every once in a while, and who knows…in 3 years if he drops about 50 pounds and keeps up his production, he’ll be in line for a Pujols-like deal.

        Ryan Howard…6’4″ 240 pounds.
        Prince Fielder…5’11 275 pounds.

        The best advice Bor-ass could give his client is to mix in a salad every once in a while and/or lay off THIRDS.

      • pugs02 - Jan 1, 2012 at 7:42 PM

        I dont understand why everyone keeps bringing up that he’s a “fat fuck”. He may be overweight but that man is in AWESOME shape. He has never missed more then 5 games in a season, and twice has played all 162 games in a season. And that goes back all the way to 2006. He is one of the most durable players out there. This “fat fuck” bullshit is irrelevant. The man is a monster, and this is coming from a Cubbies fan.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 1, 2012 at 8:04 PM

        Dude, he is 5 foot 11 inches tall and 275 pounds. That is morbidly obese. The fact that he has stayed injury-free all this time is attributable to pure luck. He is NOT in good shape any way you look at it, and there is no way I would give him more than a 3 year contract if I were the GM of a MLB team. And the fact that he isn’t signed yet means that most GMs agree with me. Because you are right…the man can rake. But the shape that he is in is shying people away from him even though he is extremely talented. Maybe I forgot to add a couple words …”Extremely Talented Fat Fuck” is probably more fair.

      • pugs02 - Jan 1, 2012 at 8:26 PM

        I get it. He’s overweight. He could obviously benefit from losing a massive amount of weight. I can definitely see it being a risk to sign him long-term, BUT he has been producing for the past 6 years with incredible numbers while at this weight. i just don’t see that changing until he’s 35+ when his weight will take a toll. I think a 6-7 year deal is completely understandable, because when the deal is done he’ll still be under 35. He’s a professional athlete, you are acting like he’s sitting on his ass every day with no physical activity. He’ll do what he has to do to perform the way he has been.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Jan 1, 2012 at 8:28 PM

        Well, pugs, I guess we will see if/when somebody gives him that 6 year deal. If he doesn’t get much more than a 3 year offer, then the GMs agree with my viewpoint. If he gets the 6 year deal, then at least one agrees with your viewpoint. Either way, it’s 2012 and pitchers and catchers report in around 45 days. It’s getting late………

      • Chris K - Jan 1, 2012 at 10:16 PM

        All this talk about Fielder being fat and injury prone, I’m surprised nobody pointed out that his father, the man he shares genes with, and is a similar player to, started his decline at age 29. Prince is 27. I’m going to assume that sports medicine and supplements have been improved since then so I’ve give Prince a few more years of usability.

        At that, I think a 5 year contract is definitely worth taking the risk on.

      • Chris K - Jan 1, 2012 at 10:30 PM

        It’s also worth pointing out that Prince is 3 inches shorter than Prince despite their similar weight.

  2. thomas2727 - Jan 1, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    The way Adam Dunn fell off the cliff cannot be helping Fielder.

    Nobody can deny his talent and commitment to the game but his weight is always going to be perceived to be a ticking time bomb.

    Nobody wants to be paying Prince 25 million a year if he starts breaking down.

    • joshfrancis50 - Jan 1, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      I bet the enormous shadow of Mo Vaughn is looming large over this.

    • kinggw - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:07 PM

      Why would Dunn affect Fiedler? Fielder despite his weight has never had any major injury problems. He is a better all around player and is five years younger. Anybody who would be apprehensive about Fielder because of his weight is an idiot. Instead of relying on an arbitrary factor like weight to determine whether or not someone will hold up, why dont people cite actual injury history. Think of the people who have been chronically injured over the past decade in baseball. How many of them were injured because of weight? Ken Griffey Jr, Grady Sizemore, Eric Chavez, Rocco Baldelli, Nick Johnson are any of them big guys? Picking on Fielder’s weight is a lazy criticism.

      I dont think he should get a 10 year deal, but I dont think any free agent over 25 should receive a deal that long. Ultimately some team is going to be happy they rolled the dice on one of the game’s best first basemen who still hasnt reached his peak.

      • Old Gator - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:18 PM

        “Anybody who would be apprehensive about Fielder because of his weight is an idiot.”

        Go ask your local orthopedist, chiropractor or cardiologist if he agrees with you. Fielder is younger than Dunn, is all. It’s just going to take that first ruptured Achilles tendon, knee cartilage or case of hip bursitis and it’s either a long visit to a fat farm in Colorado or a career of DL stints while his employers pick up the tab.

        If I were going to give that hominid Hindenburg a long term contract, it would have year by year weigh-ins and body fat percentage targets to meet and maintain or give me the option for a quick, clean, cheap buyout.

  3. paperlions - Jan 1, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    I think Fielder, Boras, and the media have just completely mis-read his market. He is a good offensive player, but gives you nothing else as a horrible fielder and base runner with a bad body that just doesn’t project to age well.

    People said the Cardinal over-paid for Holliday 2 years ago. Well, offensively they are pretty much the exact same guy. Pick any rate stat you want (OBP, SLG, wOBA, wRC+) they are essentially the same offensive player. But Holliday is a plus defender at a slightly tougher position and a plus base runner. The Cardinal “only” paid Holliday $17M per season (with $2M of each season deferred) for 7 years. Holliday was 2 years older than Fielder when he was a FA, but who would you rather sign to a long term deal? A guy built like Holliday or one built like Fielder?

    Fielder simply doesn’t give a team consistent production and is a huge negative in the field and on the bases, that just doesn’t add up to $20M+/year. Compared to whatever Fielder signs for (and actually, compared to Werth or Crawford), Holliday was a steal.

    • spudchukar - Jan 1, 2012 at 1:15 PM

      While much of what you say has merit, Holliday is not a plus defender. He is the classic overrated, by sabermetric measures, player. Reports are that he has worked hard to improve his defense, but just does not have the judgement necessary for an above average outfielder. He comes in on balls better than he goes back, but plays so deep, that the plays he makes coming in on balls would be rather routine for quality defenders.

      His arm is average at best, range quite a bit below the norm, but his primary weaknesses are his hands/judgment, which can at times be pretty embarrassing. He plays conservatively, close to the vest, which minimizes his deficiencies, and has improved through hard work, but will never be a defensive asset. He is not the kind of outfielder that you can count on to make a big play.

      Neither is he a plus baserunner. He has average, maybe very, very slightly above average speed, gets reasonable jumps, and does have above average ability to go from second to home, first to third, not so much, and is a pretty poor base stealer. Since he is a front foot hitter, he gets an okay jump out of the box, but if he is tied up, then is a double play candidate. So he comes up about average.

      I am still a big fan of his, because of his offensive approach. Sure he is susceptible to hands high inside heat, but he is learning to both lay off and fight off those pitches. His most valuable strength is his approach, which makes him a tough out against even the best of pitchers, and with McGwire’s tutelage he might bust out even more in the power department. Almost any pitcher would prefer face Fielder to Holliday in a situation where a hit would be meaningful and an extra base hit could to win the game, he is just a tougher out.

      Fielder has managed to play an incredible amount of games to date. Despite his physique, he has pretty quick feet and above average hands. But he has so much to move that certain athletic manuevers are a challenge. Hard to believe his bulk won’t negatively affect his play soon, but in his defense it hasn’t inhibited him much to date. I still think a team would be nuts to sign him long term, unless he could be converted to a DH in five years or so.

      To suggest he is simply a one-dimensional player is inaccurate. The unknown is will he become one soon. The deciding factor may be his relatively injury free career. So far he has been remarkably healthy, with staggering games played. Hard to see how that can continue, but he sure has answered the bell so far.

      • cur68 - Jan 1, 2012 at 1:25 PM

        That’s the conundrum of Fielder, isn’t it? He shouldn’t be durable, yet so far has been. He shouldn’t be quick, but evidence to the contrary. He’s a bit like a dominant pitcher who was born without an ulnar collateral ligament or one without a right hand: their deficiencies should be liabilities but are in fact nearly unnoticeable if you go by their numbers. Unlike in-born deficiencies, a weight problem can be cured, all it takes is the right approach.

  4. missthemexpos - Jan 1, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    If ever there was a player to declare that he is in the best shape of his life, you would think that Prince Fielder would make the effort this off season. The reward would be great, for both his overall health and his pocketbook.

    • cur68 - Jan 1, 2012 at 11:51 AM

      Agree, MTE. If he carves the lard off his a$$ he’ll be a plus signing for whomever as his defence will improve and the whole “bad body” stuff will go. Beaver Men probably still wouldn’t go over Bautista’s contract for his though.

      • Old Gator - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:20 PM

        Okay, just imagine the undisguised glee with which Craig will type “Prince Fielder is in the Best Shape of his Life” this spring. He’d have a grin on his face that would freak the Joker.

      • cur68 - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:28 PM

        That post would have a comment section a mile long, too. We’d all literally be tripping over ourselves to with the chubby jokes. Can’t wait for that one.

      • chadjones27 - Jan 1, 2012 at 4:02 PM

        It just amazes me that some ballplayers can’t keep that weight off. No offense to anyone who’s struggled(ing) with weight loss, but, these guys have nutritionists and trainers they can use. They get paid a lot and their income relies on their bodies holding up, that you’d think they’d take it a little more seriously. Obviously guys like Fielder and C.C. haven’t let the extra poundage slow them down, but, some extra weight loss would have to make them better ball players.

  5. streatordave - Jan 1, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Rangers would take him @ a 3 year contract. But Boras will never agree to it. If he gets anything like Albert, it will be a miracle or just a whole bunch of dumb. To bad Jerry Jones is not in baseball or Prince would have been signed by now. LOL

  6. dowhatifeellike - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    Give him the big money, just put a weight clause in his contract. That way if he doesn’t get his ish together the contract can be voided.

  7. kingjoe1 - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    Apparently more than a few teams are concerned about investing 200 million in a big fat guy. He will end up in FLA for 8 years 201 million dollars.

  8. chaseutley - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    What happened to the Marlins? Prince lives in Florida. Miami was in on Pujols. They’re looking to create as much buzz as they can for the opening of their new stadium.

    It sounds like a good fit. So, what’s the problem?

    Is Prince too pricey? Do the Marlins have a better option at first? Was the major selling point in Miami chasing Pujols (and not Fielder) the fact that Pujols is Latino?

    Having Ramirez, Reyes, Morrison, Stanton, and Fielder in their order would make the Marlins pretty tough to outscore.

    • cur68 - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:26 PM

      Now there ya go. That’s your mystery team, right there. Fielder will be a Feesh. A Beeeeg Feesh (sorry Gator, couldn’t resist). The only thing that might hold him off is the size of the Aquarium. Can he mash there? The Big Dude’s on the record as wanting a park he can put balls in seats in. He’s better off in Wrigley or Roger’s Center. Still, for the right amount of feelthy lucre he could indeed be batting behind Mike “Iron Giant” Stanton.

      • Old Gator - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:56 PM

        The Feesh are not going to bid on Fielder. They’ve been as adamant themselves about not being interested as the bloggers, boggers and boogers have been that they are interested. They’re not going to spend Pujols money on a guy that isn’t Pujols. Period. Yes, they need another impact bat but they also need someone to cover ground in that facsimile Serengeti of an outfield. Pujols only covers ground when he falls on his ass.

      • Old Gator - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:56 PM

        Fielder only covers ground….

        Edit function!
        Edit function!

      • rsnorth - Jan 2, 2012 at 10:16 AM

        You should know better cur68, it’s Rogers Centre, no apostrophe. It doesn’t belong to Roger Clemens, you know.

      • cur68 - Jan 2, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        Sorry. I still have to stop myself from typing “Skydome”, kay? It’ll take me awhile to get around to “Rogers Centre” (did you notice, I misspelled it 2 ways? The word “Centre” I initially spelled “Center”. So ashamed…)

    • randygnyc - Jan 1, 2012 at 11:49 PM

      Southern Florida won’t sign him because their isn’t an adequate food supply down there.

  9. redsman78 - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Why do y’all keep saying Fielder is in bad shape? He’s in perfect shape. Habe you ever seen a better shape of round?

  10. Charles Gates - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Prince as a Feesh: Taking his talents to South Beach Diet.

    • Old Gator - Jan 1, 2012 at 12:59 PM

      Oh boy – and wouldn’t the maitre’d’s at the overpriced haute bistros and Burger Kings alike of South Beach be thrilled to see baseball’s answer to Mr. Creosote come trundling through their doors….

      • Old Gator - Jan 1, 2012 at 1:00 PM

        …and don’t sthkimp on the pah-ey!

  11. cyanocittacristata - Jan 1, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    Boras might be up the creek this time.

    No one wants to pay the kings ransom for the Prince. All the teams left don’t have a cash cow to milk to feed this beast, along with the risk of the common masses keeping cash in pocket with that recession business still around.

    Yeah the MLB boys aren’t too crazy for the plumpers. Mix that with the fact that there is no Capt. Ahab for Boras to play mystery ship (team) with so the harpoons stay in the harbor.

    The smart teams are playing moneyball. Contract efficiency or GTFO.

  12. tn16 - Jan 1, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Fielder would not help the jays Lind had a great year at 1st so prosumaly he will get better In his second year at first base
    Fielder is a better hitter but defense
    He’s worse they need to be concentrating on pitching
    But if it is possible to put a weight clause on his contract they should take the chance just think of there line up
    Escobar ss
    Johnson 2b
    Bautista Right field
    Fielder 1sb
    Lind Dh
    Lawrie 3b
    Rasmus Cf
    Snider Lf
    Arancibia C

    A great all around line up

    • Kevin S. - Jan 1, 2012 at 3:04 PM

      Great year? You do realize that he was one of only four qualified first basemen (out of twenty-four) with lower than league-average offensive output last year, right? He was good in 2009, but he’s basically been a replacement player the other five years of his career. If the Jays pass on Fielder because they’re worried about displacing Lind (as opposed to the cost being too high), they’re retarded.

  13. tn16 - Jan 1, 2012 at 5:39 PM

    They would be better of trying to trade for a bat it would be cheaper and they could have more $ to spend on pitching

  14. jrspike - Jan 1, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    Just maybe that only the Cardinals and Angels were the big dummy’s. No 10 years for this one. Take 6 years 27 mil and be happy as a pig eating poop.

  15. denny65 - Jan 1, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    Whatever. Just keep him away from Seattle.

    • Old Gator - Jan 1, 2012 at 9:20 PM

      Why? You afraid he’ll displace the fault if he falls down?

  16. JBerardi - Jan 1, 2012 at 10:16 PM

    Percent of his baseball career that Prince Fielder has been considered “too fat”: 100%

    Percent of his baseball career that Prince Fielder has been actually been “too fat”: 0%

    Mark my words: Whichever GM signs Price Fielder this winter is going to look very, very smart in the long run.

    • Old Gator - Jan 2, 2012 at 4:13 PM

      Percent of his 47 years 248 days that my Uncle Carl was considered “too fat”: 99.999999%
      Percent of his 47 years that it took him suddenly to drop dead of a heart attack:.000001%

  17. crisisjunky - Jan 2, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    The REAL monster in this conversation is the 800 pound gorilla……
    Prince Fielder, Prince Albert, Ryan Howard, Joey Batts, Hands Free Holiday?
    Chicks and G.M.’s dig the long ball.

  18. tn16 - Jan 2, 2012 at 2:02 AM

    Fielder can not sign for more then Bautista
    And if they do sign him make sure Bautista is ok with it

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