7 years and $168 million dollars.
That's how much is potentially left of Prince Fielder in Detroit.
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My thoughts of Fielder are rather direct.
He's a dreadful first baseman, I think he'll be better offensive the next several seasons than he was in 2013, he's proven to be below replacement level in October, and for what the Tigers are financially creeping into, his contract is already a barrier in front of improving short and long term. Fielder has to go.
So much could alter the economic landscape of MLB during its time, but at the present moment, only a handful of teams could afford to pay Fielder $24 million for seven years.
We can rule out more than half the game's interest in a simple stroke.
Houston, Florida, Tampa, and so many budget conscious teams such as them.
None of the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels or Dodgers need a first baseman.
What about the remaining teams who have the potential to be lavish spenders?
For better or worse, the Cubs have committed to Anthony Rizzo.
The Nationals will be moving Ryan Zimmerman across the diamond before you know it.
We're left with:
The rebuilding Mets. My top destination for Fielder. UPDATE. They're responsible!? Fielder would constitute a draw for a boring team, perhaps they'd still consider.
Rangers. They can afford him, though sending him to a league rival is not my first choice.
Mariners. Still seeking power.
Giants. Brandon Belt could be moved to the OF, and similar to Seattle, SF always in need of power.
Toronto. With Bautista rumors floating, they've showed they spend, so I wouldn't ever rule the Jays out on anything. UPDATE. Fielder is an upgrade over Adam Lind when he's at first, not Encarnacion, and they have relievers to spare.
The Rockies. A wild card. Tulo and Cargo make a ton, and adding Fielder to that could be cumbersome, but that would be an imposing middle of the order. Much like the Walker, Galaragga, Bichette days. That is, if they truly mean it when they say they won't move Tulo. UPDATE. Rockies rumors from MLBTR all in line with the above. Replacing Helton, they think they're close, yadda yadda.
We know the variety in the free agency shopping aisle has been choked off in recent years because of teams sensibly signing away the arbitration and early free agency years of their emerging 20-something stars. After that age, you're essentially taking a considerable risk with a player who's likely already begun his rapid physical decline.
If free agency in the future at first base is going to look similar to this year's selection, then the Tigers may actually have an asset in Fielder.
Fielder's cost is locked in and protected from future free agency inflation. Even with less talent to choose from, the contracts give to those players will still likely rise. 90% of the time free agency is a practice in overspending. The market rarely ever goes backward, even if the quality of the players do. Supply and demand.
$24 million a year. Take him, he's yours.
Allow me to make Fielder even more attractive to potential suitors.
I will pay $45 million towards the remaining 168. That brings that AAV down to 17.6 million. MUCH more reasonable for what you should be able to source from Fielder, at least for half of the remaining contract.
Is there a catch? No, not really. The Tigers will HAVE to receive something back from one of those teams mentioned above, but this is economic and on field addition by subtraction.
$123 million dollars over 7 years are off the books. So is half of your bad infield duo, and a revolting October performer, which could constitute the most important 10% of the their season (up to 19 games out of 181).
The savings on Fielder can be repurposed in other places to help improve the Tigers. Immediately.
For 2014, we're doing one of two things: Victor Martinez is your primary first baseman. He showed off some surprisingly dazzling foot work, athleticism and hand-eye coordination on certain Sundays last year. I think we were all impressed. Immediate defensive upgrade over Fielder.
The other option is Martinez remains the DH, and Cabrera goes back to first.
You can now go sign, or trade for a third baseman, and outside of not allowing the player to use a glove, this addition will make the Tigers again better defensively.
Keep this in mind. Due to paying whomever that $45 million to take Fielder, you're essentially adding $6.4 million to the incoming player or player's salary for seven years. Or maybe the Tiger just write that check up front and forget about it forever. Then the financial strain really evaporates as we progress deeper into those seven years that Fielder is elsewhere.
On a personal note, I JUST did this. Paid a huge chunk to get out a $500 car payment, brought it down to $340, and in 36 months, no more upside down cars. It hurt now, but it's nice saving $150 every month on car payments. It will slowly replenish the money I put down.
Before you think 'great, Fielder's gone, now we can afford Scherzer!' Eh, I'm not very eager to pay another player 25ish million dollars for 5 or 6 years. The only way GM Chase is signing deals to that length anymore is in pre-arb and free agency years.
Look at it this way; beyond 2014 is Verlander, Sanchez, Scherzer, Smyly, someone THAT much more optimal than Verlander, Sanchez, Fister, Porcello, Smyly...and the pick or players you get back for Scherzer? Review this last item very deliberately before you snap to judgement. Porcello and Fister will be paid handsomely in free agency, but not what Max will demand.
OK, Fielder's gone let's get to work.
Of all the dozens of ways to proceed, Nick Roddy asked me to consider having Granderson return, and he pointed out that not ALL of the former Tiger's power was housed at Yankee Stadium. Hmmmmmm.
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Granderson will be 33 when 2014 starts and coming off a year where he played just 61 games.
He made $15 million last year, and 10 before that.
I'm going to guarantee him $40 million for three years. He should take that.
I'm also dealing Porcello for Howie Kendrick to replace Infante, and taking the draft pick for Scherzer after 2014. Max, thank you. I hope you have a World Series to go with your Cy Young and Boras-sized deal you'll sign with the Marlins, before they trade you.
I guess this is turning into 2014 Tigers 2.0. So be it...
LF Granderson (career .357 OBP vs. RHPs. Leads off against them)
DH Castellanos (will play all over. LF/RF/1B/DH, I'm working him back at 3B too)
I'm also signing the versatile Kelly Johnson for a bench role. If you'r unfamiliar with him, imagine if Don Kelly didn't have you seething in anger with his every appearance.
Johnson, Holaday, Perez, Kelly. With Fielder done clogging 1B, Castellanos and others, even starters, are essentially 'bench' players as well.
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The Tigers top priority this offseason should be exiling Fielder from their roster. If they accomplish that, with fiscal responsibility they allow themselves a toy chest of future moves to remain a viable contender well into the second of the decade. To me, that's more important than winning a World Series. Contending year after year will eventually bring that elusive championship.
What took 1200 words to say, is this: if you follow my $45 million dollar idea to liquidate Fielder, you've given yourself $17 million to make upgrades and aside from arbitration increases, the payroll isn't going to continue to maraud towards the luxury tax.
So do whatever the hell you want, within (my) reason with it!