Today, it was announced that the Detroit Tigers and Prince Fielder agreed to a 9/$214 million dollar deal. First thought that comes to mind is that’s a lot of money to give a future full-time DH. Fielder is really, really good, don’t get me wrong but in the end this could really blow up for the Tigers in the end. The Tigers recently lost C/1B/DH Victor Martinez to a torn ACL and desperately needed to make a move, for the immediate future they may have made the right one but for the future it doesn’t look good.
During the duration of the contract, Prince Fielder is scheduled to make roughly $23.6 million per, slightly below Pujol’s $254 million dollar contract that the Angels gave Pujols. In order to live up to those expectations, Fielder will have to perform extremely well.
Based on what his WAR is expected to be and the value he would generate, Fielder doesn’t even give the Tigers one year where he would give them surplus value. In fact, he actually would cause the Tigers to lose $53.19 million dollars in value. It sure looks like the Tigers panicked.
There’s no denying that the Tigers needed help on offense though. According to wRC+ they had the fifth best offense in baseball last year but before Fielder, that was unlikely to happen again. Miguel Cabrera did his thing and Alex Avila and Johnny Peralta were nice surprises but it’s unlikely that Avila or Peralta do as well as last season. Like previously mentioned, they were also hit with Martinez’s ACL tear. The next two seasons the Tigers owe a lot of money to Martinez though and I’m sure he won’t be happy if he has to come off the bench and by then Fielder could be on his way to being a full-time DH due to his weight problems.
Speaking of weight, Fielder eerily resembles former first baseman Mo Vaughn. Vaughn, like Fielder was a first baseman with power but struggled with his weight. Vaughn posted a handful of good seasons but once he hit 32 years he completely fell off. He went from a 135+ wRC+ player to a 115 wRC+ player. His AVG/OBP/SLG slowly started to fall as well and by the time he was 35, he was out of baseball. The last thing the Tigers want is for that to happen with Fielder but if Fielder doesn’t get in shape that could be inevitable.
If the Tigers hope to win a world series before Fielder’s skills begin to erode than they better do it sooner, rather than later.