The Missing Piece: Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder will hit the open market this winter, and I can’t help but wonder what a difference he would make to the Mariners offense. With Prince Fielder, the M’s could roll out an opening day line-up next year mirroring something like this-

RF-Ichiro
2B-Ackley
1B-Smoak
DH-Fielder
CF-Gutierrez
LF-Saunders/Peguero
C-Olivo
SS-Ryan
3B-Figgins

That is a major league line-up right there, and one capable of winning 80-90 games. It’s amazing what happens when Jack Cust and Jack Wilson are replaced by Prince Fielder and Dustin Ackley.

Now, signing Prince will be no small task. Remember, he turned down 5/100 from Milwaukee last year, and he and Pujols will be the stars of the free agent class following this season. He is a Boras guy, only 27 years old after this season, and in his past 4 seasons, the guy is averaging 40 HR and 111 RBI.

What other teams might be interested in Prince? Let’s make some educated guesses through process of elimination. First, for money reasons alone, forget about Pittsburgh, Florida, Arizona, Tampa Bay, Oakland, Cleveland, Kansas City, San Diego, Milwaukee, and also the New York Mets will likely not be in the mix given their financial turmoil and the emergence of Ike Davis. We’re down to 20 teams.

Next, let’s assess team needs, and eliminate those NL teams who don’t have a 1B hole to fill. This is where the Reds, Phillies, Nationals, Rockies, and Giants are crossed off. In the AL, the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Twins, and White Sox already have a lot of money tied up at 1B/DH.

So who is left? 10 teams. Seattle, LA Angels, LA Dodgers, Baltimore, Texas, Houston, Toronto, St. Louis, Atlanta and the Cubs. One of these teams will sign Pujols, so really there will be 9 teams that have the money and need for a guy like Prince. Of course, some of these teams will prioritize pitching or other positions above 1B/DH. Atlanta, Houston, Baltimore, and Toronto strike me as teams that for various reasons will likely weed themselves out.

Thus, the top competition to sign Fielder, in my eyes, are the M’s, Rangers, Angels, Dodgers, St. Louis, and the Cubs; plus, whoever gets Pujols is off this list. Rumors are that Boras will be seeking 200 million for Prince, but in reality I see bidding starting around 7 yrs, 150 million. The M’s will need to have the highest offer on the table to lure Fielder, that much I am certain of, given the losing culture and location. He is a west coast guy having grown up in LA, but selling Prince on playing DH in Seattle could be tough. Jack Z drafted him and I think that’s a definite X factor.

So, assuming these facts are correct, would you like to see the M’s break the bank to the tune of 150+ million, and overpay for a guy who will play DH? I say yes, because we can’t contend without that big bat, and I don’t see his talent diminishing in the next 5 years. Oh, and the Felix clock is ticking…

-Dan

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