Projecting Free Agency: The Top 5 Most Likely Landing Spots For Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder is in an interesting position as he prepares for free agency.  Just look at the positives working in his favor:

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  • He will be just 27-years old at the start of the 2012 season, right in the prime of his career.  So, for teams willing to hand out a seven or eight year contract, there isn’t quite as much risk as an older free agent (though, that’s not to say that there is no risk).
  • He’s hit at least 32 HR each of the past five seasons including years of 46 and 50.
  • He has three seasons of at least 119 RBI, including driving in 141 in 2009.

Players like this are not supposed to reach free agency.  They aren’t supposed to be available for the highest bidder.  However, here we are.  You would think that the options would be unlimited, but in fact a lot of the large market teams are already set at the position. 

You also have the complication of Albert Pujols’ presence on the free agent market, just adding an extra bit of difficulty in trying to determine who will actually be involved in the bidding for Fielder.

With all that said, here are the Top 5 teams I see getting into the mix:

5) Baltimore Orioles
Here is a team that seems like a perfect fit for a major slugger.  They have a number of young pitchers, though it will be interesting to see how many of them actually develop into steady Major Leaguers.  While they have a good young base in the lineup (Adam Jones, Matt Wieters), they do lack that truly feared bat in the middle of the order.

As things stand right now Mark Reynolds is inline to be the team’s starting 1B in 2012.  It’s great that he can hit a lot of home runs, but is that really enough?  He’s not an ideal 1B, having made 11 errors in 78 games at the position in his Major League career.  Vladimir Guerrero’s $8 million salary is coming off the books, which would allow the team to move Reynolds to DH as well.

The Orioles could be a longshot, because they are not one player away from competing in the AL East.  However, that hasn’t always stopped teams from making moves in the past.

4) Toronto Blue Jays
It is not hard to imagine Adam Lind becoming a full-time DH in Toronto, is it?  The real player who would lose his spot is Edwin Encarnacion (since he has already lost his spot at 3B to Brett Lawrie), who the Blue Jays hold a $3.5 million option for in 2012.  I don’t think anyone is avoiding Fielder because of him, do you?  The team actually could pick-up the option, considering the reasonable price tag, to have him as a security blanket.

In 2011 Toronto had an Opening Day payroll of roughly $70 million.  It wasn’t long ago that they entered the 2008 campaign at nearly $98 million, so it certainly isn’t unthinkable that they add a major chunk to their payroll.

It’s possible that they instead focus on strengthening a starting rotation that is in need of some depth behind it’s top two pitchers (Ricky Romero & Brandon Morrow) , but could you imagine a combination of Jose Bautista and Fielder in the middle of the order?  That could arguably be the best 1-2 punch in the game and make the Blue Jays a very scary opponent.

In order to compete with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays the Blue Jays will eventually need to make a splash.  This seems like a good opportunity, though again, seeing them instead look to improve the rotation (Yu Darvish?) could be more likely.

3) Milwaukee Brewers
The general consensus has been that he will not return to Milwaukee.  With a deep run into October, do we really want to completely write them off?  If Fielder goes out onto the open market and does not come up with the offers he’s expecting, who’s to say he doesn’t “settle” for a contract similar to the six-year, $120 million that he’s been rumored to have been offered from the Brewers.

If Milwaukee feels that they can still make that offer, knowing that they will eventually have to address their pitching again (Zack Greinke is only signed through 2012), is a different story.  However, I think they have to be considered a realistic option.

2) San Francisco Giants
Stocked with some of the best pitching in the league, the Giants desperately need help in their lineup.  They were second worst in the league in runs scored with 570, above just the lowly Seattle Mariners (556).  Considering they had the second best ERA (3.20) and all of their key pitchers returning, a few extra runs would go a long way.

Aubrey Huff will be 35-years old at the start of the 2012 season and while he is already signed, I don’t see his presence stopping the Giants from getting the player they sorely need.  With Brandon Belt capable of playing the outfield (as is Huff), there are definitely ways to clear the spot.

Things would be better if Barry Zito were to be coming off the books, but the Giants know what needs to be done if they want to continuously compete for World Series titles.  If there is any potential to sign Fielder, Brian Sabean will find a way to clear the salary to do it.

1) Chicago Cubs
With Theo Epstein taking the reigns in Chicago (eventually it will become official) you know the team is going to be looking to make an impact.  A lot of the rumors are that they will make a major bid for Pujols, though I think Epstein’s presence could alter that line of thinking.

It’s not that Pujols is not currently the better player, but he’s already 31-years old (he’ll be 32 before the start of the 2012 season).  Sooner or later you have to think that he is going to start to regress.  Just look at Alex Rodriguez as one example.

Would you want to give him a seven or eight year contract and risk paying him over $20+ million when he is in his 38 or 39-year old seasons?  That’s not to say that Fielder doesn’t have his own risks (like his weight), but I could easily see the Cubs instead focusing on the younger player who could perform throughout the length of his contract.

With new owners and a new regime at the top, the Cubs will likely be in position to make some moves.

Other Potential Suitors
I know there are going to be rumors about a few other teams also getting into the mix, but here are my thoughts on why they fell short of the Top 5:

  • Dodgers – It’s hard for me to imagineLos Angelesas a reasonable location, with new contracts for Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw coming up soon and the team already in bankruptcy.
  • Rangers – Is offense really where they need to improve?  While there is a bit of a hole at 1B I would expect them to potentially go a lot harder after CC Sabathia or Yu Darvish and retaining C.J. Wilson.  The starting rotation is where they need the ace.  Signing someone like Fielder is just something that they don’t need considering they already boast a lineup featuring Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz & Josh Hamilton.
  • Marlins – Given their move to a new stadium it appears like they have money to spend.  However, where would that leave Gaby Sanchez?  I do believe the Marlins are going to make a splash, but I don’t think 1B is the spot that makes the most sense.
  • Yankees – I just see them as a long shot at this point.  Barring a traded of Jesus Montero he could be an option at DH.  You also have Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter who are getting up there in years and will need an occasional day off.  By signing someone like Fielder to be a full-time DH, they would lose their bats in the lineup completely.

What are your thoughts on where Fielder may sign?  What are your top five potential destinations for him?

Make sure to check out these other great baseball lists from Rankings Professor:

 

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3 Responses to Projecting Free Agency: The Top 5 Most Likely Landing Spots For Prince Fielder

  1. Randy says:

    Nationals.

  2. Joey E. says:

    im sorry, but he’s not going to san francisco. sure they can have a nice offense with prince/posey/pablo, but he’s not going to a place that will zap his power and with some pretty bad offense. if anything, they go after reyes. you should have texas in the top 5. they will have money, they will let CJ walk and place ogando and feliz in the roto

  3. ALEX MARTINEZ says:

    I think it may be a bit premature to predict the addequate landing spot fot Fielder mainly becuase it will depend largely on where do Albert Pujols signs which i believe he will indeed sign first than Fielder, however if i may throw my prediction here it is:

    5. San Francisco Giants: based on the fact that they don’t have a superstar in the line up what so ever and the bigger threat depends on how will Kong fu Panda’s weight will be at the beggining of next season and the hopes that Beltran one re-signs with San francisco and two he performs similar to what an agent former star did this last year, then yes this is a posibility for Fielder.

    4. Toronto Blue Jays: I could see a scenario where the Blue Jays decide to go big or go home in order to compete and i believe this would be one of those teams which will become an instant contender with the likes of Fielder’s big bat, plus given how the ball flies in Toronto, a full season of a durable Fielder there should be a show on its own, i could only imagine the type of home run number he could put up, as far as distance and amount (my own personal opinion, he would reach the 50 HR mark about two times during his contract should he sign there). However it would depend on how the blue jays would pitch the sale to Fielder who as we all know is a winner and i am not sure that he would see the Blue Jays as a wiining posibility with the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the fighting Rays already being contenders and with depth on their rotation a thing the Blue Jays lack.

    3. Milwaukee Brewers: How can you count the Brewers out of the bidding when it has been his home for the past 10 years since his draft. He is obviously a fan favorite. The brewers should be contenders for some years to come with their new revamped rotation of Greinke, Gallardo, Marcum and some young pitching, and perenial MVP candidate in Braun, however i ge tthe vibe that with all the hype he has had with all his power and raw statistical numbers, he is still looking for either a bigger market or something that would make him happier.

    2. Chicago Cubs: based on what i said before about the bigger market, what more of a bigger market than the legendary Chicago Cubs who do have or will have a need for a first baseman should they choose not to re-sign Peña on the offseason (which they will not without a doubt if they are able to sign Fielder) and Epstein soon to be formally announced. However Chicago runs the same luck if not worst as Toronto int he sense that although they could spend the money, Fielder does not really make them a contender, besides Fielder they don’t really have any threat what so ever, A-Ram is mort likely out of Chicago and Soriano no longer presents the threat he once did as he is showinig aging problems, which have diminished his all around numbers, ave., power, speed, etc, and young Starlin Castro is merely just a very good lead off hitter who really doesn’t provide any protection becuas eof the spot in the line up he hits in and even if he were to be moved up to a number 3 hitter, his number really are not going to increase as dramatically as his power is not a real threat or driving in run ability. There is no pitching or a relief pitching threat. I don’t see Fielder changing the posibility of continuing to win in a confortable Milwaukee scenario over a rebuilding Team in Chicago who is several pieces and years from contending, as big as the Chicago baseball market is.

    1. Miami Marlins: As crazy as it is to think, Miami seems very logical for several reasons. They have the necessary pieces in Miami to contend right now, and the likes of Fielder would really help a lot fo players in teh line up, like Hanley Ramirez, if he were to be placed as a second batter right in front of Fielder, and Mike Stanton given the opportunity to be pitched to which he did not have this season since he was the only real threat in a Marlins line up without un healthy Hanly and under performing Logan Morrison. Besides just imagine the show the Marlins would in their newly built stadium which promises the typical desirable and welcoming admosfere for any superstar and now the stadium will have it all, Clubs, Restaurant, Launges, etc., in fact all the Miami night life envirement right in the Stadium, plus arguably the two strongost most powerful players in the game from each side (left handed fielder and right hander Stanton) pumping homeruns out of the park left and right. Moreover there is pitching already for the Marlins with ace josh Johnson eager to redeem himself for the last two shrot seasons and re-stablish himself as one of the most dominant horses in the game, plus a surging durable Nolasco and the possiblity of another signing like Mark Buhrle, and re-signing Javier vazquez, should the hype of the new Marlins flavor keeps him in the game. I see the Marlins spending on their First big multi-year contract of a big time name Super star and what best for a team that has never taken a risk like that in anyone than a proven, young, Big time power and average guy like Prince Fielder. His production will be unquestioned and his contribution to the whole team will be unmatched by anyone other than Albert Pujols. One more fact, Fielder is an Orlando native and Miami besides being one the most desirable off season destination and home for the vast majority of the baseball players presents the opportunity to having Fielder close to his home in Orlando. I see the Marlins edging Chicago just because i see the Miami market in the fast grow after a long drout of bad sports. I see the Marlins pulling off what Pat Riley did for the Heat, and revamping a Franchise whos town may not be the best of fans but they sure know how to jump in the van wagon of a real good team and make it seem bigger than the longest and most loyal of fans in any other sport city. But most of all and to conclude the pitch for Miami, I am a Miami residence and nothing will make me happier than to see Prince Fielder Play first base, Hanley Ramirez play shortstop, Mike Stanton play right field, Logan Morison play in left Field, Gaby Sanchesz play in third base (since he did play third base in College for the university of Miami), Emilio Bonifacio Playing Center Field, Omar Infante laying in Second Base, and John Buck Directing Traffic behind the plate with a true number one in Josh Johnson putching a no-hitter in the 2012 the first year of the new Marlns Ballpark while i enjoy the game from the beach area pool at the Clevelander new fascility, down the left field line.

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