Fun With Free Agents: Part 1
By Bryan Craves
This is the first of a multi-part look at possibilities (whether realistic or really far-fetched) of possible targets from this winter’s free agent crop for the Detroit Tigers. For entertainment/speculation purposes only. Please, no more bets.
The talent pool for this winter’s batch of potential free agents is in some ways, rather thin. But, why not have a look-see and perhaps find a way to improve the Tigers roster?
Hey, if the Motor City is going to be baseball free, we might as well have some fun with the future roster, right?
First up: Prince Fielder.
Why the Tigers need Fielder:
Well, why wouldn’t they? I’d be willing to bet that any team in baseball would love to have a lefthanded power hitter in their lineup. Good numbers last year, batting a very respectable .299, hitting 38 HRs and driving in 120 for the NL Central Champion Milwaukee Brewers. Pretty close to Miguel Cabrera numbers, right up to the intentional walks, in which he drew 32 of those last year. Of course, if you have Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, and Prince Fielder batting all in a row as such, protection for all of those batters is ultimately there. Of course, batting left at Comerica Park would have its advantages to, enough to improve on the 36 doubles he hit last season: hitting that right center gap could give him (maybe) 10 more of those per season. He does walk a lot, and has even cut down on his strike out total from his 2010 season, 106 this season as compared to 138 in each of the last 2 seasons. All that said, it looks good for Fielder to lock up a lot of money this offseason, and with Scott Boras as his agent, we’re for the most part aware that the Tigers and Dave Dombrowski are somewhat active in at least conversing with each other.
Why the Tigers don’t need Fielder:
There is a question on where you would put Prince if the Tigers were to lure him in during the offseason. He’s not nearly as good defensively as Cabrera is (seeing Miggy improve his defensive range at 1B over the last couple of years makes me not want to move him), and there’s been some rumor-mongering that the team should pursue Fielder, play him at first, and move Miggy to third base. Of course, you then push out another player under contract for 1 more year, that of Brandon Inge. And with Victor under assumed DH duties for the balance of his contract (3 more years), you wouldn’t be able to throw him in that slot either. I for one, am not a fan of purely mixing in a full offensive lineup all the while taking away a rather large chunk of the game, the defense. Even if you move Cabrera to third (a spot that proved to be a horrible place for him after the team acquired him) you’re not even sure he can field the position well, or even moderately well. And having defensive liabilities at both corners devalues any notion that this would be a good potential signing for the Tigers.
There’s also that Boras factor: A lot of years, and a lot of money. While the average player tends to regress after having a good season or two, that hasn’t been the case for Prince… yet. The big plus that Fielder has over most prospective free agents is that he’s only 27, and not quite at his prime yet. That said, the Tigers could easily move along and allow another club to pony up what will likely be close to a $100MM/year+ multi-year deal.
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