The singer Prince once changed his name, and now the baseball player Prince has officially changed his team. The difference is the singer amassed a large fortune before changing. The baseball player will amass his after.
Prince Fielder’s new team – the Detroit Tigers – signed him to a contract reportedly worth 214 million dollars over the next nine seasons. That number is big no matter how you break it down, but it looks even bigger when you don’t spell it out with words. I’m serious, check it out. It looks like this:
Upon hearing this news for the first time, the initial question you should ask yourself is, “Is Prince Fielder worth it?” The short answer to that question is, “No.” However, you have to keep in mind that there are maybe a dozen teams that could realistically afford to sign him. Now, of those 12 (or so) teams that could have afforded him, is Prince Fielder worth it to them? The short – and long – answer to that question is, “Yes.”
By getting Prince to sign this contract, the Detroit Tigers immediately place themselves on the already-crowded list of teams that will be dominant in the American League this season. Despite reaching Game 6 of the ALCS last season, I can’t imagine many people were expecting Detroit to repeat that success in 2012, especially after losing Victor Martinez to a knee injury. Detroit now joins the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, Boston Red Soxs, and the newly upgraded Los Angeles Angels as the “teams to beat” in the A.L. (However, you can never sleep on Tampa Bay, and Toronto is better than their record leads you to believe. I told you the list was crowded.)
The Tigers will undoubtedly miss Victor Martinez, but adding Prince Fielder to a lineup that already includes Miguel Cabrera is a ridiculously awesome way to miss him less. In Fielder, Detroit gets a guy who has averaged 40 homers and 110 RBI’s every season since 2006. As a designated hitter – which I assume is where Detroit will put him – Fielder will be able to enjoy an even longer and healthier career than he would have in the DH-less National League. If for any reason the Tigers need him to be more than a designated hitter, he’s a more than viable option to play at first base. He’s a great teammate, a clutch hitter, and the biggest vegetarian I’ve ever seen. And he’s only 27 years-old.
The city of Detroit is nothing new to Fielder, and the Tigers are a franchise he will have no problem becoming a comfortable part of. His father, Cecil, played in Detroit for seven seasons, including a 1990 campaign where he would go on to hit 51 home runs. (That was back when reaching 50 homers actually meant something.)
On top of all that, go ahead and throw in a pitching staff that includes A.L. Cy Young and Most Valuable Player Justin Verlander and the Tigers are a lock to win the American League Central this season. There isn’t another division in baseball that has a bigger gap between its first and second-best teams. White Sox, Indians, and Twins fan-bases all know for certain that their season-ticket packages will not include tickets in October. Royals fans know this as well, but they’re used to it by now.
So, back to my original question: is Prince Fielder worth 214,000,000.00? If you want to secure your franchise’s spot in the postseason for the next 4-5 seasons – and you can afford it – then the answer is, “Yes.”