Why Your Team Won’t Sign Prince Fielder

Scott Boras isn't likely to send client Prince Fielder to play for the St. Paul Saints next year; obviously he'll wind up with one of baseball's 30 teams.  Still, there are good reasons for every single team not to give Fielder the megadeal he's expected to seek.

  • Orioles: The Orioles could probably fit in Prince's salary without raising payroll, but would a new GM jump in with a $100MM+ commitment for a team that isn't expected to compete in 2012?  Is there any way they'd win the bidding on a top Boras client?  Fielder is not a good long-term signing for the Orioles, who may prefer to give Chris Davis a full season at first base if he continues to avoid labrum surgery.  All that said, they will probably at least be in the mix.
  • Red Sox: This could only work if Fielder replaces David Ortiz as the team's full-time DH, given the presence of Adrian Gonzalez at first.  The Sox clearly have bigger concerns and are highly unlikely to make Fielder the game's first $100MM DH.
  • Yankees: To open up first base, the Yanks would have to trade Mark Teixeira despite his full no-trade clause.  Fielder is not clearly better, so don't expect that manuever.  While DH is technically possible, it's wise to leave that spot open for Alex Rodriguez, who is under contract through 2017.  Plus, starting pitching will be a more immediate concern than offense.
  • Rays: Something tells me they won't have Fielder taking up half their payroll.
  • Blue Jays: I expect the first base and DH spots to be filled by Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion again; they'd earn a total of $8.5MM next year.  However, Lind has been disappointing and the Blue Jays could certainly afford Fielder, if you'd like to dream on it.
  • White Sox: Paul Konerko is locked in through 2013; Adam Dunn through 2014.  In theory Dunn could be dumped, but not for the purpose of Kenny Williams oddly cozying up to Boras for a massive Fielder contract.
  • Indians: They don't have the payroll space for it, nor does signing Fielder fit with their long-term plan.
  • Tigers: Miguel Cabrera will occupy first base through 2015, while DH Victor Martinez is signed through 2014.
  • Royals: Their future is with Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler.
  • Twins: They have to be worried about Justin Morneau and could have an open DH spot this offseason.  Technically the Twins could afford Fielder without raising payroll, but they have needs all over the place and this would not be their style.
  • Angels: Though he missed all of 2011, Boras client Kendrys Morales should be in the first base mix next year, as well as Mark Trumbo.  Bobby Abreu is under contract for '12 as the DH.  While the Angels could afford Fielder, it is tough to see Arte Moreno winning that bid.  A pursuit of Aramis Ramirez to play third base is more reasonable.
  • Athletics: I imagine they'd like to see Brandon Allen and Daric Barton compete for first base next year, with a cheap free agent DH signing.  Fielder would be hard to fit into the payroll, and the team's outfield uncertainty will likely be a big focus.
  • Mariners: The Ms would probably like to see Justin Smoak and Mike Carp in their regular lineup.  I think they could afford Fielder, but I can't see them making that DH investment.
  • Rangers: Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli, and Michael Young will all be back next year unless someone is traded.  With a big arbitration class, the Rangers would need to raise payroll just to re-sign C.J. Wilson or sign a comparable starter, so I don't think Fielder fits in financially either.
  • Braves: They're surely content with Rookie of the Year contender Freddie Freeman.
  • Marlins: Gaby Sanchez has this spot locked down on the cheap.
  • Mets: Even with a payroll reduction the Mets should have some money to burn, but not Fielder money while embroiled in a huge lawsuit.  Ike Davis' status is uncertain, but that's not going to push the Mets to Fielder.
  • Phillies: Ryan Howard is signed through 2016.
  • Nationals: An $8MM Adam LaRoche is not a huge roadblock to Fielder, and Boras will certainly try to get the Nationals involved.  While Mike Morse could move to left field, a big extension for Ryan Zimmerman could be preferable to Washington.
  • Cubs: Boras needs to get the Cubs involved in the Fielder bidding.  While the Cubs could afford him, their needs for starting pitching and perhaps a third baseman should be equally pressing. The team's new GM will have alternatives in Carlos Pena, Michael Cuddyer, and Albert Pujols.
  • Reds: They've got Joey Votto through 2013, plus a lack of payroll space if Brandon Phillips is retained.
  • Astros: Brett Wallace and Carlos Lee have their flaws, and Jonathan Singleton is a ways off, but it'd be a radical departure for the Astros to go after Fielder.
  • Brewers: Last year, Fielder reportedly turned down an offer from the Brewers that was similar to Howard's five-year, $125MM deal.  Since then the Brewers locked up Ryan Braun through 2020, so they might not be able to make that offer again even if Prince is interested.
  • Pirates: The Pirates could sign Fielder and still have one of the game's smallest payrolls.  I don't think GM Neal Huntington has committed even $20MM total to a player in his tenure, and it'd cost that much for one year of Fielder.  It just doesn't seem like his style, but if ownership decides that the team is close they do technically have the need and payroll space.  
  • Cardinals: It's difficult to see Fielder as anything more than a long shot Plan C for the Cards.  If Pujols signs elsewhere while Fielder is still on the market, and the idea of re-signing Lance Berkman to play first base doesn't pan out either, I guess the Cardinals could look into Fielder.
  • Diamondbacks: I think they could afford him, but they have Paul Goldschmidt as their future.
  • Rockies: They don't have the money for it, and Todd Helton is under contract through 2013.
  • Dodgers: They'll have an opening, but payroll flexibility is the question.  Attendance and payroll will be down, and without a new owner in place by year's end the Dodgers won't be able to bid for Fielder.
  • Padres: Anthony Rizzo struggled as a rookie, but Jed Hoyer isn't jumping into the Fielder bidding.
  • Giants: Aubrey Huff is only under contract through 2012, but signing Fielder would make Brandon Belt a permanent outfielder.  Maybe that could work, but payroll flexibility will be very limited.  The focus may be on signing Tim Lincecum and finding a shortstop and an outfielder or two.

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