Victor Martinez, designated hitter for the Detroit Tigers tore an ACL last week during his off-season conditioning regimen, and the team wasted no time in getting a replacement. And that may just have upset the balance of power in the American League.
According to an Associated Press report on the Washington Post, Prince Fielder has agreed to a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Detroit Tigers, subject to his passing a physical. Fielder hit .299 for the Milwaukee Brewers last season, and had 38 home runs and 120 RBIs. Fielder averaged 40 homers and 113 RBIs during the last five seasons.
The Tigers won the American League Central division by 15 games before losing in the playoffs to Texas. Having added the 27-year old Fielder, they appear to have increased their chances of returning to the World Series for the first time since 2006.
The Oakland Press reported that Miguel Cabrera was ranked first in on-base percentage plus slugging percentage in 2011, and Fielder was fourth. Along with MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, they should keep the Tigers in contention.
But the Tigers may be risking a clash of personalities in their investment. Some reports say Fielder only agreed to the deal if he could play first base full time for the Tigers, Cabrera's position.
But the Los Angeles Angels have been in the free agent market themselves, beginning with their 10-year, $240 million investment in Albert Pujols. Ksdk.com reported that they next signed Texas Rangers starting pitcher C.J. Wilson to a 5-year, $77.5 million deal. The Rangers answered back by signing Japanese pitched Yu Darvish to a 6-year, $60 million contract.
Prince’s father Cecil Fielder hit 51 home runs for Detroit in 1990. He stayed around until 1996, and at the same time Prince was hitting home runs in batting practice at Tiger Stadium, even as a youth.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Fielder’s contract is now the fourth largest of all time.