Prince Fielder Rumors
Here's the latest out of the Motor City regarding Prince Fielder's huge contract and some other items of note ...
- Contrary to many large, backloaded contracts, Fielder's nine-year deal is structured so that he'll earn $23MM in each of the first two years, and $24MM in each of the seven years thereafter, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN).
- Fielder's deal also includes a limited no-trade clause, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- Fielder's agent, Scott Boras, told Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that he did not receive an offer from the Tigers on Prince until after news broke of Victor Martinez's season-ending knee injury (Twitter link).
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said Detroit is "most likely" out of the running for free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, although he cautioned that "you never can tell," tweets Jason Beck of MLB.com.
- The Tigers might still sign another pitcher, tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, although it would likely be on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.
The Dodgers pushed hard for Prince Fielder for weeks and thought they had a legitimate chance of signing him, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. They offered a seven-year deal worth a little more than $160MM that would have provided the first baseman with the chance to opt out after four seasons. Fielder would have earned $26MM or so for the first four years of the deal and $20MM-plus for its final three years.
The Dodgers met Fielder at an undisclosed location a few weeks ago and outgoing owner Frank McCourt approved the team's proposal. Though the Dodgers aren’t unhappy with James Loney, they wanted to add an elite bat to their lineup. The Nationals and Tigers were also finalists for Fielder, whose nine-year, $214MM deal becomes official at a press conference in Detroit this afternoon.
The meeting between Boras and the Dodgers took place in Dallas, tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown. Dodgers execs visited Boras at his Newport Beach offices about a week ago, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times tweets.
Prince Fielder, who hit baseballs out of Tiger Stadium as a 12-year-old, is on his way back to Detroit, where his father, Cecil Fielder, starred for seven years. The Tigers have officially agreed to sign the free agent first baseman to a nine-year, $214MM contract.
The agreement -- the fourth largest in baseball history behind Alex Rodriguez's mega-contracts and Albert Pujols' recent deal with the Angels -- will keep Fielder in the Motor City through his age 36 season for an average annual value of $23.78MM. It doesn't include any opt-outs, Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and ESPN.com tweets.
Though the market for Fielder seemed far from robust at times this offseason, agent Scott Boras has found an unexpected suitor once again. Over the years, Tigers owner Mike Ilitch and GM Dave Dombrowski have dealt extensively with Boras regarding clients such as Kenny Rogers, Ivan Rodriguez, Johnny Damon and Magglio Ordonez.
Fielder will play first base and Miguel Cabrera will change roles, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Victor Martinez will miss most or all of the 2012 season with a torn ACL, so it's possible that Cabrera will DH this year. He has only played 14 games at third base since being traded to Detroit after the 2007 season, but a return to the hot corner seems to be a possibility for Cabrera.
Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com suggests a return to third base is likely for Cabrera and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports hears that Cabrera was "really excited" about the Tigers' new addition (Twitter links).
Fielder's considered a below average defender at first base, but he's a force at the plate. He posted a .299/.415/.566 line with 38 home runs in 2011, finishing in the top five in MVP balloting for the third time in the past five seasons. He has a .282/.390/.540 line in seven seasons in Milwaukee, where he averaged 37 home runs per 162 games played. Concerns about Fielder's stocky physique do exist, but Boras defended his client's build at the December Winter Meetings.
“Everyone talks to me about Prince’s body, but when you have that 5’11” strike zone, that is a huge advantage and that’s why that on-base percentage is sitting there," he said. "Those pitchers have to put the ball into a smaller window and I believe that it’s more difficult to do.”
This June the Tigers will surrender their first round pick (27th overall) to the Brewers, who offered Fielder arbitration earlier in the offseason. Milwaukee will also obtain a second compensatory pick for losing Fielder, the seventh overall selection in the 2002 draft. Fielder is among the Brewers' all-time leaders in many offensive categories, including home runs (230), on-base percentage (.390), sluggling percentage (.540) and walks (566).
Cecil Fielder, whose off-and-on relationship with his son has been well-documented, hit 245 home runs in a Tigers uniform, good for fifth on the franchise's all-time list. The elder Fielder led the American League in home runs in 1990 with 51 and in 1991 with 44.
When MLBTR polled readers in mid-December, just 5.6% of 27,000 respondents expected Fielder to sign a nine or ten-year deal. He ranked second on MLBTR's list of top free agents this offseason, trailing only Pujols.
The deal figures to provide lots of leverage for Joey Votto, who will hit free agency after the 2013 season if the Reds don't extend him first. On the other hand, free agent designated hitters such as Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Raul Ibanez and Vladimir Guerrero lost a potential suitor this afternoon.
Heyman tweets that the Nationals and a third mystery team were in on Fielder until the end. Heyman first reported the agreement on Twitter and Yahoo's Tim Brown first reported that the sides were close to a deal.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
On this day last year, the Rangers traded Frank Francisco and cash considerations to the Blue Jays for Mike Napoli. Toronto pulled the trigger on the swap just four days after acquiring Napoli from the Halos. Here's a look at tonight's links..
- The Braves have set a player payroll budget of $94MM for this year, leaving them with several million dollars still to spend, chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk told Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. McGuirk also said that Liberty Media has expressed no intention of selling the club in the near future. Also of note is that the club is locked into a 25-year local TV deal that will prevent the franchise from cashing in on MLB’s trend toward higher telecast rights fees.
- The Rangers' bid for Prince Fielder was much shorter than nine years, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- The Reds are probably done handing out big league deals this offseason, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Earlier tonight, the club reached agreement on a minor league deal with Jeff Francis.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter) ranked Yoenis Cespedes' most probable destinations in the following order: Cubs, Marlins, Orioles, and White Sox.
- Peter Ueberroth says he's heard from several groups bidding on the Dodgers but rebuffed them all, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter).
- C. Trent Rosecrans of CBSSports.com examined what's left on the open market.
- Free agent Raul Ibanez believes that a three-day session that he had in December with Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo will be key to a bounce back season in 2012. Last season, Ibanez hit .245/.289/.419 in 575 plate appearances for the Phillies.
- Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette is zeroed in on improving the club's on-base percentage this winter, writes Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun.
- Rival executives applaud Fielder for signing on with a winning club rather than signing with a struggling club just for the money, Heyman tweets.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com's reports (on Twitter) that the Marlins briefly considered trading Hanley Ramirez to free up money so they could sign Prince Fielder, but they decided against it. Prince is in Detroit now, and Hanley will come to camp as the third baseman.
- The Marlins are prepared to make a significant offer to Yoenis Cespedes according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. He says it'll be four-to-six years in length. Cespedes recently gained residency in the Dominican Republic, and is waiting to be declared a free agent by MLB.
- Meanwhile, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter) that Cespedes has told teams he would prefer not to play in Miami. However, Friasro tweets that Cespedes has no issues playing for the Marlins.
The Tigers agreed to sign Prince Fielder to the biggest contract in franchise history and the fourth biggest in MLB history less than 24 hours ago, so there’s lots of Tigers chatter today. Here are the latest links...
- Some ‘MLB bigs’ say the Fielder contract is too long and for too much money, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. The first baseman agreed to a nine-year, $214MM deal.
- One rival general manager says Fielder has elite makeup, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney tweets. “He's great that way," the GM said.
- People in baseball aren’t sure if the Fielder signing takes the Tigers out of the running for Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com tweets. Cespedes has gained residency in the Dominican Republic, but he's not yet a free agent.
- Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch joined Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio and said he's eargerly awaiting hitting in the same lineup as Fielder. Boesch added that he had no idea Fielder was joining the Tigers.
- Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer told John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press that "[his] phone has blown up talking about [the news]. It is Christmas come late."
- Here are some more reactions to the Fielder deal.
Scott Boras did it again. Just when it looked like the market for Prince Fielder had slowed late in the offseason, Boras got his prized client the fourth richest contract in baseball history. The Tigers agreed to sign the slugger to a nine-year contract worth $214MM today, giving them the most devastating 3-4 lineup tandem in the game. Here's a recap of what's been said about the deal...
- "In some sense, I'm glad he got a good contract that he's satisfied with. We knew early on that we probably weren't going to be in it. I think Prince probably knew that, too," said Brewers GM Doug Melvin to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Melvin confirmed they hadn't had serious extension talks with Fielder since Spring Training of 2010, and he credited the slugger with helping the team get back to being contenders.
- Rival executives told Joel Sherman of The New York Post that they think the signing came from ownership, not GM Dave Dombrowski (Twitter link). He says deals for other Boras clients -- Johnny Damon, Ivan Rodriguez, and Magglio Ordonez -- happened the same way. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports heard that owner Mike Illitch influenced the signing "100%" (Twitter link).
- The Nationals and a mystery team were strongly in on Fielder, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). The Mariners, meanwhile, told teams they didn't have money to spend on a hitter of Prince's caliber, which is why they traded for Jesus Montero according to Sherman.
- Andrew Baggarly of The Mercury News says (on Twitter) that the Giants were never really in on Fielder.
- ESPN's Keith Law, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs, and SI.com's Cliff Corcoran agree that Fielder will improve the Tigers in the short-term, but the last few years of the contract could be messy.
There's something close to a final four for Prince Fielder at this point in the sweepstakes for the free agent first baseman. There was lots of buzz about the Nationals, Orioles and Rangers yesterday, though their level of interest remains unclear. Here are the latest updates, with the most recent rumors up top:
- There is no deal in place despite some recent confusion on Twitter, Scott Boras told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
- The Marlins and Orioles are not in the mix on Fielder, tweets Rosenthal. He confirms that the Nationals appear to be the favorites.
- The Nationals must have decided they're willing to offer more than six years, Heyman tweets.
- Fielder is expected to get at least seven years, maybe even eight according to Heyman (on Twitter).
- ESPN's Buster Olney heard speculation that the Tigers would be a fit on a one-year deal, which would allow Fielder to hit the market next winter, when the Mets and Dodgers could have new ownership (Twitter links).
- The Rangers believe they are out of the bidding for Fielder, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. Talks have accelerated and could conclude today, according to Nightengale. The Nationals appear to be the favorites to sign the first baseman.
- GM Dan Duquette said he's not sure the Orioles are that interested in Fielder, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. "Lots of teams are interested in power-hitting left-handed batters, so I guess you can put us in that group," Duquette said.
- There are indications that four or five finalists for Fielder exist, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. Some say the Nationals are reluctant to offer an “ultra long” deal.
- One GM wonders if agent Scott Boras will wait until outgoing Dodgers owner Frank McCourt picks a winning bidder for the club, ESPN.com's Buster Olney writes. Boras could then sell the incoming owner on Fielder before the sale of the team becomes official. It's a risky strategy since Spring Training is just a month away and the intentions of the new owner aren't yet known.
- The Fielder sweepstakes are nearing their conclusion and the Nationals are a leading contender for him, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Some members of the Nationals’ ownership would prefer to play Adam LaRoche at first in 2012, then acquire a center fielder and move Michael Morse to first base in 2013, Rosenthal writes.
Here's the latest on the two-time defending American League champs...
- Josh Hamilton said he hasn't heard any new information from his agent about a possible long-term extension with Texas. Hamilton spoke to media (including ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett) at a Rangers winter caravan event and said he was holding to his deadline of cutting off contract talks at the start of Spring Training. Hamilton is eligible for free agency after this season but said he wanted to remain with the team. "We‘ve already told the Rangers that if it doesn’t happen before the season that they are the first ones we’ll come to after the season is over," Hamilton said.
- The Rangers' arbitration hearings with Elvis Andrus, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz have seen respectively set for February 9, 15 and 17, reports Durrett. The Rangers were known to be discussing a multiyear deal with Napoli, though the two sides had apparently focused on settling Napoli's 2012 contract first.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com describes the Rangers as "in, but not [a] favorite" for Prince Fielder (Twitter link). Fielder and the Rangers "love" each other but Heyman believes Texas doesn't have the payroll left to sign Fielder after the club signed Yu Darvish. For the full roundup of today's Fielder news, click here.
- In case you missed the news from earlier tonight, the Rangers have been discussing Koji Uehara's availability with several other teams, including the Blue Jays.
It's hard to imagine that anything's holding back the market for Prince Fielder at this point. Albert Pujols signed more than a month ago, Yu Darvish and the Rangers worked out a deal, and agent Scott Boras has taken the time to introduce Fielder to some MLB owners. It doesn't seem likely that a new suitor for the powerful free agent first baseman will emerge if Boras continues waiting, since the sale of the Dodgers won't be completed on time to convince the new ownership group of Fielder's value. We're left with rumors linking Fielder to the Nationals, Rangers, Mariners, Dodgers, Cubs and Orioles, but not much certainty. Here are the latest updates on Fielder, with the most recent notes up top:
- A Nationals source says he would be "stunned" to see the Nats give Fielder a contract for longer than seven years, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Kilgore also looks at some other recent contracts for slugging first basemen and predicts Fielder will receive a seven-year, $170MM deal with whatever team signs him.
- The Orioles haven't met with Boras and don't have a meeting scheduled, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. There's some interest, depending on Boras' asking price, but Kubatko doesn't expect the Orioles to chase Fielder. "They're nowhere near being in position to sign him," he writes.
- One GM told Rosenthal that the Rangers are in on Fielder "hard," though others say the Rangers won't go heavy on years (Twitter link).
- The Orioles are "definitely in on" Fielder and there's plenty of motivation to sign him, Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio and MLB.com tweets. Duquette is a former Orioles GM who's the cousin of current GM Dan Duquette. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out that interest from the Orioles and Nationals gives Boras leverage (Twitter link).
- The Nationals are a finalist for Fielder, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. The Rangers and at least one other club are still in the running for him.
- There's now "something close to a final four" for Fielder, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- The Rangers' management team is in the Dominican Republic for the next week, so it's doubtful the team will sign Fielder in the near future, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets.
- The Nationals continue to work on a deal for Fielder, but there was no agreement as of last night, tweets Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and ESPN.com. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel repeats (on Twitter) that there's no deal at the moment.