The Detroit Tigers are reportedly close to signing Prince Fielder to a 9-year, $214 million contract. Friend of the site Ken Rosenthal has a breakdown of the deal here, which he calls a “classic Boras shocker” on Twitter.
I’ll leave all of the nitty-gritty details to the pros like Rosenthal. For my commentary on this deal, I am going to put on my White Sox hat and do whatever I can to rain on the Tigers’ parade. Why? Because I’m still bitter about last season and not all that optimistic about this season (yet) and because ADAM DUNN WHY DID YOU HAVE TO SUCK SO MUCH DEAR GOD WHY?
Fact #2: Cecil Fielder played for the Detroit Tigers from age 26-31, becoming a lovable star because of his girth and behemoth home runs.
Fact #3: At age 26, his first full season in the majors, Cecil Fielder hit 51 home runs and slugged .592; at age 26, Prince Fielder, in his fifth full season in the majors, hit 32 home runs and slugged .471.
Fact #4: At age 27, Cecil Fielder hit 44 home runs and slugged .514; at age 27, Prince Fielder hit 38 home runs and slugged .566.
Fact #5: Cecil Fielder never slugged higher than .504 or hit 40 home runs again despite his salary increasing to nearly $10 million by his age 33 season. He retired at age 34.
Fact #6: Prince Fielder will still be under contract for two full seasons at a massive salary after turning 34.
Fact #7: From ages 23-25, Prince Fielder averaged 43.3 home runs, 121 RBIs, and had OPS’ of 1.013, .879, and 1.104; from ages 26-27, prime years for most players, Fielder averaged 35 home runs, 101.5 RBIs, and had OPS’ of .871 and .981.
A few observations about these facts:
- Cecil Fielder was never better than during his first two full seasons before declining sharply after that; he was still a useful player, but nowhere near the presence he had been.
- Prince Fielder was never better than during his first three full seasons (two great years with just a good year sandwiched in between) and is already declining statistically at the age his papa was putting up his best numbers.
The elder Fielder was paid $9.237 million each of his final two seasons in Detroit, an exorbitant sum at the time. He hit 59 home runs and drove in 172 runs total over those two seasons. Prince Fielder will be paid $20+ million dollars during every season of his deal with the Tigers. For their sake, let’s hope they get a better return than they got on the money they paid his father.
Otherwise, if Prince declines and becomes injury-prone, as many extremely heavyset power hitters have (Cecil, Mo Vaughn, even Frank Thomas, just to name a few), this deal could quickly become an albatross for the Tigers.
With Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera and a decent roster around them, the Tigers have a window to win over the next couple of years. If Fielder replacing the injured Victor Martinez helps power them to a World Series over the next few years, I suppose this deal will probably be worth it.
But I can’t help but think that at some point – probably when Fielder is hitting 25-30 home runs per season and making semi-regular DL stints, which will probably happen not too long after he turns 30, if not before – the Tigers and their fans will be looking back on this deal with regret.
Of course, I’m just an angry, disillusioned, pessimistic White Sox fan still burdened mentally and emotionally by the Dunn Fiasco (and the Peavy Problem and the Rios Mess and blah blah blah)…so what the hell do I know?