No Fielder for Jays…
All offseason, Jays fans have practically been charging up to Rogers Center with pitchforks, clamouring that the team and general manager Alex Anthopoulos should be opening Roger’s wallet and laying down some serious coin for the likes of Prince Fielder (and to a lesser extent Yu Darvish). They’ve taken to message boards, they’ve clogged talk radio with calls, and they’ve even started an online petition demanding that the Jays start spending money or lose what few fans they still have. It’s seemed silly and asinine to me all offseason, and in light of yesterday’s news that super agent Scott Boras had procured his rotund client, Fielder, a 214 million, 9 year contract, it seems particularly obtuse.
Do the Jays need a player at first base who can actually, you know, hit? Absolutely, of course they do, but Fielder was not the options. In signing the offspring of Cecil, the Jays would have paid 214 million for a player who can’t field, can’t run, and may well eat Jose Bautista. Fielder is a phenomenal hitter; he is a 5 win player at his best and that’s all bat, but he has three or four more years in his prime and then he’s going to begin a decline. You want to be paying a 35 year old Prince Fielder, with his body type, 25 million a year?
I think any sane person, or at least any person who isn’t a fan of the Tigers, would prety resoundingly say, no!
And before the proprietors of that lovely Jays-Fielder site try to argue that the Jays should have locked up the burly first baseman earlier in the offseason when the price was lower, uhmmm… no, no, no. That’s not how Boras operates. While fans may revile him, Scott Boras is the best at what he does and it’s not even particularly close. If you are a player and you want to maximize your earning potential, you sign with Boras. And in the year of your free agency, he releases a Dostoevskyian brochure that lists your accolades and makes the case that you’re Babe Ruth, Lou Gherig, and Marie Currie all rolled up into one. He then waits, and waits, and waits.
He waits until every other prominent player at your position has signed. Then he waits a little more. He waits until the season is almost upon us, and teams are looking at their roster, and the roster’s of their opponents, and thinking, damn I might be missing… then he starts to pit one team against another, and he always, always talks about that mystery team. After Pujols took the Angels’ money, much was made of how Boras wouldn’t be able to get Fielder a big contract. The big money/market teams were out: the Yankees had Teixeira, the Red Sox Gonzalez, the Angels Pujols, the Dodgers and Mets are in financial disarray, the Cubs and White Sox are rebuilding. There was Texas, but they jumped in on Darvish. So, who was left? The Nationals? The Orioles? Maybe the Mariners? Or, maybe, a 214 million, 9 year deal with the Tigers.
That’s why you hire Scott Boras, and that’s -whatever you might want to think about him because he’s the agent of your team’s best player – why he’s the best.
So, it would be stupid for Jays fans to be upset that Anthopoulos didn’t sign Fielder. He’s a lousy fielder who will probably be a DH in the next four years. And, while I love making snarky comments about his size, because of that size, he’s also a strong candidate to age quickly. Nine years, a lot can change in nine years. The history of 7+ year contracts is not good. Go to Cots’ MLB contracts, look at the highest total contracts, look at the names, think about how those deals ended up. Think about how the Yankees felt about Giambi near the end, or how the Cubs feel about Soriano, or how the Rockies felt about Mike Hampton, or about – as great as Johan Santana was – whether the Mets still want to pay him 60 million dollars. Go to that site and look at three of the 100 million contracts handed out last year and ask yourself how quickly opinions about Joe Mauer, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth changed. You think Prince Fielder is good? He’s not even one of the three best first basemen in baseball. Joe Mauer was one of the three best players in baseball. Now? Who knows.
So yes Jays fans, Alex Anthopoulos didn’t make a big push for Fielder, but that doesn’t mean that Jays’ management aren’t serious about winning. It might just mean that they’re a little smarter about it than the you.