Ah yes, the Prince Fielder debate. Do we or don't we take that plunge? It has been something that has been in the back of the minds of all Mariners fans since this subject was originally broached back in May. As we get closer and closer to the off-season, the momentum will really start to pick up and this question will move to forefront of everyone conversations instead of being just a nice thought.
There is no question that Milwaukee Brewers current first baseman and free agent to be Prince Fielder will make the Mariners immediately better, but that is not the point. Here is what all fans need to consider. Is Prince Fielder worth the price in knowing that acquiring him will take up all of this teams off-season budget? We have too many holes and not enough money to go around, and ownership has shown no willingness to increase off-season spending. This is were the conversation should begin because the Mariners find themselves in a unique situation. The Mariners have to improve their lineup. That is a fact. They cannot afford to go another off-season with marginal upgrades. To much hangs in the balance. So I will ask you now, and then again in a little bit.
Should the Mariners be bold and bring in the slugging All-Star Prince Fielder?
The Mariners budget will be the biggest factor in deciding how this question will be answered. Jack Zduriencik will finally have the money he has desired to spend on player personnel. The four existing contracts of Milton Bradley, Carlos Silva, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Josh Wilson will be set to come off the books. Just with those four contracts alone, the Mariners will have 18,679,000 dollars available in spending. It's goes beyond just those four. A deeper look into the Mariners budget and you see that the Mariners were still paying Jack Wilson's 5 million dollar salary even after he was traded. Add in Adam Kennedy, Jamey Wright, and Luis Rodriguez's 2011 guaranteed salaries, that's another 7,250,000 the Mariners will have available in spending. That brings the total spending figure to 25,929,000 dollars. If you add in a potential arbitration figure of 10 to 14 million dollars, the Mariners should have about 11-14 million dollars to spend this off-season.
So how much will it cost to bring in a guy who has put up .286/.409/.549/.985, 116 HR, 344 RBI, 498 H, 292 Runs, and walked 301 times over the last three seasons?
Let's start with a base contract at 5 years at 100 million dolaars. That figures out at 20 million dollars per season. While 20 per season is indeed a very nice salary, that will not even come close to what it will take to get Prince Fielder to Seattle. Just looking around the league at what premier 1B are making, here are a couple of examples of what Prince Fielder will be looking to eclipse.
- Mark Teixeira - 8 years at 180 million dollars - 22.5 million per season
- Adrian Gonzalez - 7 years at 154 million dollars - 22 million per season
The problem with giving Prince Fielder a 22.5 million dollar salary means you will have yet another player eating up a quarter of your teams payroll. Add in our ownership groups unwillingness to add to the payroll, and it means the Mariners will not be able to spend in the next two off- seasons. You better get used to Mike Carp as your everyday left fielder for the next two seasons. Get used to Casper Wells and Trayvon Robinson being Ichiro Susuki's replacement in right field, instead of acquiring a more tradition power hitting option . It means that Kyle Seager or Alex Liddi are set in stone at third base. It also means the Mariners will have to decline arbitration on Jason Vargas, meaning Blake Beavan, Charlie Furbush, Anthony Vasquez, and perhaps Tom Wilhelmsen will be competing for spots 3, 4, and 5 behind Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda. Basically what I'm outlining is the Mariners will not be a playoff team until 2014 at the earliest.
This is the reality of the type of baggage Prince Fielder would create if the Mariners signed him this off-season. So I will ask you again, Should the Mariners be bold and bring in the slugging All-Star Prince Fielder?
If the Mariners were a Prince Fielder away from competing for consistent playoff appearances or even a championship, then maybe it would be worth the price that it would take to sign Prince. But that isn't our reality. We are a team that has multiple holes, and it will require every available penny in order to fill them. We cannot afford to take on that type of salary commitment it would take to sign Prince. We are a team that is not built for the playoffs, and adding a Prince Fielder doesn't mean that necessarily change our position. I'm sorry Mariners fans if you were hoping I would be on board with this, but unfortunately this isn't exactly the type of gamble I'm unwilling to take right now with the Mariners still in flux.