According to Yahoo’s Tim Brown (via Twitter):
“Source: Prince is very close to a nine-year contract with the Detroit Tigers, according to sources.”
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has since tweeted that, “prince agrees with
The Tigers clearly became an option for Fielder after the knee injury to Victor Martinez left him likely out for the entire 2012 season. It does create an interesting dynamic, with both Fielder and Miguel Cabrera both under contract. While there will be speculation that Cabrera could move back to 3B (where he started his career), it’s hard to imagine that as a viable option though it should not be completely ruled out. However the two will likely share time between first base and designated hitter for this season (and they will worry about what to do with Victor Martinez come 2013).
As for as providing protection for Cabrera, the Tigers couldn’t have asked for a much better option. His low for home runs over the past five seasons has been 32 and only once has he driven in fewer than 100 in that span (including three seasons of 119 or more). While it’s not the best hitters ballpark, we all know that Fielder has the strength to hit the ball out of any ballpark.
Just to drive the point a little bit further, while there was a stark home/road split in 2011, that hasn’t been the case throughout his career (displayed as home/road):
- 2007 – 27/23
- 2008 – 18/16
- 2009 - 23/23
- 2010 – 18/14
- 2011 – 24/14
Seeing him hit at least 30 HR with over 100 RBI should be a near given. Seeing Cabrera match, if not exceed, those numbers should also be a lock. He was always able to perform without such a dynamic force protecting him in the lineup. Now that teams have to pitch to him?
Of course, there is still an issue with the top of the Tigers lineup. If they want to excel they need to have someone who can consistently get on base hitting at the top. Is Austin Jackson the answer? Not if he continues to strikeout over 25% of the time. That is the one major issue that the Tigers could face.
Who exactly will Fielder and Cabrera be driving in, outside of each other? Unfortuantely it’s not just Jackson who could be an issue, as there is no clear-cut #2 hitter in place either. Delmon Young could ultimately fill the role, and thrive in it, though we all know how unimpressive he has been at times.
Despite those issues, the move is clearly a home run for the Tigers. However, the stadium could suppress his power (slightly) and there are significant questions about the lineup around him. Does that mean we should downgrade him? Absolutely not, but it’s hard to imagine him reaching the 40-50 HR plateau either.
Going into the season expecting him to be between his 2010 and 2011 numbers (around 35 HR and 100-110 RBI) and you shouldn’t be disappointed.
What are your thoughts on the move? How would you value Fielder in 2012? Does the move inflate his value?