Detroit Tigers: Best January Moves Since 2000
January 26, 2012 – Detroit Tigers sign Prince Fielder
Seasons with the Detroit Tigers: 2
Career WAR with the Detroit Tigers: 8.4
From the moment Prince Fielder became a free agent in 2011 Detroit Tigers fans began harboring unrealistic dreams of him signing in the town where his father made his name. It was fun to dream about the return of a young man who as a kid appeared in a McDonald’s commercial and hit home runs at Tiger Stadium. It was pure fantasy, of course. The Tigers already had Miguel Cabrera at first base, and by 2011 Victor Martinez had fully transitioned from catcher to DH. There simply wasn’t room for Fielder. The calls for Fielder grew louder in mid January when reports surfaced that V-Mart tore an ACL and would miss the 2012 season. It still seemed far-fetched, though, as Martinez was signed through 2014, and you don’t just go sign the biggest free agent on the market to a massive, multi-year deal because you lost your DH for a season.
Back in 2012 Twitter wasn’t quite the cesspool it is today. It exploded in popularity in 2011, but it was still somewhat quaint by today’s standards. Fans were a bit more gullible, and there was enough smoke about Fielder signing somewhere soon that many people believed it when Scott Swaim at MLBInsideNews tweeted “#Breaking: #Nationals to sign Prince Fielder to 8 year deal.” Then, just as many Tigers fans were realizing “Scott Swaim” was a fraud, a very real tweet from Jon Heyman indicated Prince Fielder was coming to Detroit. He also tweeted this gem:
Fielder’s run in Detroit was successful, but short. He largely did what the Tigers hoped, hitting .295/.387/.491 with 55 home runs over two seasons. But he was dreadful in the playoffs, hitting just .196 with one double and one home run in 24 games, and in November 2013 Dave Dombrowski made one of his greatest trades, swapping Fielder and his monster contract for Ian Kinsler. Speaking of great Dombrowski trades…