Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Haudricourt: Nationals a favorite for Prince Fielder

An MLB official told me over the weekend that word is spreading in the industry that the Washington Nationals have emerged as a favorite to sign free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder.

The market was slow to develop for Fielder, even after Albert Pujols signed a 10-year, $254 million deal with the Angels during the winter meetings in December. But now that the calendar has turned to 2012, you have to assume Fielder and agent Scott Boras will try to get a deal done soon.

For public record, the Nationals have played down any interest they might have in Fielder. General manager Mike Rizzo said recently that “unless something extraordinary and out of the ordinary” happened, he was planning to go with Adam LaRoche at first base in 2012.

...The MLB official I talked to wasn’t sure the Nationals would go the eight to 10 years that Boras is seeking for Fielder, however. They might prefer to go shorter on the deal but as long as Boras is able to match or exceed the $25.4 million annual salary that Pujols is getting from the Angels, I’m guessing he will be happy.

So, we’ll see how this plays out. But keep your eye on the Nats. The Brewers would love for Fielder to go to the American League so they rarely have to face him but as long as it isn’t an NL Central club—i.e., the Cubs—they still won’t have to do battle with him that often.

Thanks to ST.

Repoz Posted: January 03, 2012 at 05:00 AM | 79 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: brewers, business

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 03, 2012 at 07:39 AM (#4027466)
This rumor has legs in my mind. I can get my head around the Nationals pushing a lot of money Fielder's way. They did the same with Werth so the organization has a history of overpaying. (Granted, one data point that comes to mind).
   2. TerpNats Posted: January 03, 2012 at 08:25 AM (#4027482)
I think the Nats can sign Fielder if the contract is shorter than what he and Boras initially sought (no more than six or seven years), and if it doesn't hamstring their chances of signing Zimmerman to a long-term extension or getting someone for center field in 2013. He certainly would bolster Washington's lineup, especially Werth, who at best is a complementary hitter; Fielder could be for him in D.C. what Ryan Howard was in Philadelphia.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2012 at 09:25 AM (#4027509)
If they can keep this to 6 years, <$150M, it's an overpay, but not crippling.

Personally, I wouldn't go over 6/120; I don't see where a better bid than that is coming from.

The owners who let Boras manipulate them with no other real bidders are just foolish. I can't believe they don't have the back channels in place to verify his claims.
   4. Swedish Chef Posted: January 03, 2012 at 09:29 AM (#4027514)
I can't believe they don't have the back channels in place to verify his claims.

Because it would suit all other teams just fine if Boras fooled the Nationals? Because it would be collusion to exchange market information?
   5. WhoWantsTeixeiraDessert Posted: January 03, 2012 at 09:40 AM (#4027524)
Right, I think this would have to be a bargain in February to happen. Otherwise, Rizzo has to convince the Lerners to overpay again in years and money for Fielder, along with the cost of eating LaRoche's 8 million either in a dump trade or sitting on the bench, it forces them to trade a cost effective player in Morse when Harper is established as a corner OF since you can't shift him to first in 2013 or when/if you trade LaRoche in mid-2012, and also probably worsens the bargaining position with their franchise player, unless they are ready to support a much larger budget for an uncertain fanbase and revenue stream (no revenue sharing money). Also, once again, the stated second offseason goal of upgrading center field/leadoff batter is not addressed. They can't seriously get by with Werth there for very long, and they really don't have any prospects you can imagine being ready for center next year, so you have the same problems the roster has at present - no adequate leadoff hitter, no adequate center fielder, and probably only Upton and Bourne as options and plenty of competition for them. Right now they're going with the .304 obp of Ian Desmond probably making 500 outs leading off, Fielder better be good at two-out hitting.

   6. Guapo Posted: January 03, 2012 at 09:41 AM (#4027526)
Well, the problem here is that the Nationals already have Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, and Bryce Harper in their future. (Not to mention Adam LaRoche, but whatever.) That's three players for three available positions (1B, LF, and RF) unless you think Werth can play CF for the next 5 years (he can't) or unless you want to look into trading Morse (hard to see them getting fair value).

The Nats need to focus on upgrading at CF and SS.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2012 at 09:47 AM (#4027530)
Because it would suit all other teams just fine if Boras fooled the Nationals? Because it would be collusion to exchange market information?

C'mon, there's collusion and then there's collusion.

No, it doesn't suit other teams (except maybe those in the NL East) b/c it raises the whole salary structure.
   8. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 03, 2012 at 09:52 AM (#4027537)
Boras is either going to get years or the average salary if not both. So it's 7 or more years at 20 million per annum or 5 years but 25 million or more per annum. He needs one of those numbers to 'pop' to his client and the press.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2012 at 09:55 AM (#4027544)
Boras is either going to get years or the average salary if not both. So it's 7 or more years at 20 million per annum or 5 years but 25 million or more per annum. He needs one of those numbers to 'pop' to his client and the press.

But who needs him that much to pay? Fielder's only a 4-5 WAR player. He's just not that compelling. I'm struggling to think of a team that needs to "overpay".

It doesn't matter what Boras "needs" unless someone is willing to give it to him.
   10. Bourbon Samurai, what price fettucine? Posted: January 03, 2012 at 09:56 AM (#4027547)
This'll be fun. Some other Nats folks have said "what'll they do with Adam Laroche?" to which the answer is of course WHO CARES?

Guapo, I agree ideally they'd focus on CF and SS but I don't see a comparable upgrade anywhere. Fielder is the best guy left, so you take him and worry about Michael Morse later.
   11. Sweatpants Posted: January 03, 2012 at 10:11 AM (#4027559)
Guapo, I agree ideally they'd focus on CF and SS but I don't see a comparable upgrade anywhere.
Wasn't a pretty big selling point on Jayson Werth the fact that he could handle CF?
   12. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 03, 2012 at 10:19 AM (#4027563)
snapper

Boras typically finds a way.

And there is definitely chatter around Prince that he has been assured that he will either get an average number that exceeds Pujols or the years that he craves.
   13. Bourbon Samurai, what price fettucine? Posted: January 03, 2012 at 10:49 AM (#4027593)
Wasn't a pretty big selling point on Jayson Werth the fact that he could handle CF?


They ran him out there a fair amount at the end of the year. I've seen worse. He's not a long term answer, though.
   14. The District Attorney Posted: January 03, 2012 at 11:12 AM (#4027619)
He's not a long term answer, though.
Well, either he or Harper is gonna have to play there, right?
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4027621)
Well, either he or Harper is gonna have to play there, right?

No. Morse can move to 1B, and Harper to LF, with Werth in RF.

And there is definitely chatter around Prince that he has been assured that he will either get an average number that exceeds Pujols or the years that he craves.

That shouldn't really matter to the Nationals.
   16. Guapo Posted: January 03, 2012 at 11:23 AM (#4027628)
Mark Zuckerman at Nats Insider- Link- has a good take on this:

Consider that the Nationals already are paying Werth $20 million-plus in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Fielder would also cost that much, perhaps has much as $25 million per season over that same span. Zimmerman figures to command $20 million per season himself over at least seven or eight years. Do the math. Are the Nationals willing to devote $65 million a year to only three players for at least four years?

Guess how many MLB clubs currently do that? Three. The Yankees are committing anywhere from $68 million to $72 million in 2014, 2015 and 2016 to Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. The Phillies will pay $65 million to Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard in 2013 (but only 2013). And the Angels are on the hook for $65 million in 2016 (but only 2016) to Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver.

That's it. The Red Sox don't have three players making $20 million per season at the same time. Neither do the Rangers, the Tigers, the Cubs, the Cardinals or the Dodgers.

Are the Nationals -- who still have to take care of Stephen Strasburg, Harper, Morse, Jordan Zimmermann and others at some point -- prepared to enter that stratosphere of the highest-payroll franchises in baseball? If they aren't but they still sign Fielder, it's going to be nearly impossible for them to keep Zimmerman and those other young cornerstones in curly W caps.
   17. SG Posted: January 03, 2012 at 11:58 AM (#4027671)
Is Fielder enough of an upgrade over LaRoche to warrant spending $20-25M per season? I don't see it. He's probably something like a 2 - 2.5 win upgrade. It especially doesn't make sense because of what Zuckerman notes. They have to pay Strasburg and friends soon enough, and that seems like a better way to spend their money.

I really don't know who is going to pay Fielder what he wants. Anyone that gives him Pujols money per year is crazy IMO.


   18. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 03, 2012 at 12:18 PM (#4027692)
Ryan Zimmerman really figures to make $20M per year? Coming off a season in which he played only 100 games and put up only 2 WAR?

If Zimmerman projected to repeat his 2009-2010 peak in 2012, then sure, but otherwise Zimmerman is not a $20M player, certainly not $20M on a long-term deal.

I think the Nationals shouldn't spend $150M+ on Fielder because I think he's not nearly that good, but I don't think they should let the possibility of Zimmerman deserving a big contract slow them down much.
   19. The District Attorney Posted: January 03, 2012 at 12:50 PM (#4027725)
Either way, wow, is this Werth contract ####### them over.
   20. Guapo Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4027749)
Ryan Zimmerman really figures to make $20M per year? Coming off a season in which he played only 100 games and put up only 2 WAR?


Wellllll..........

The benchmarks for Zimmerman are the Tulowitzki and Braun extensions. You can certainly argue that Zimmerman should be a level below that, particularly if you're concerned about whether he can stay healthy.

But the Werth contract is a factor here as well. After giving Werth $20 mill+ per year, how is the front office going to justify giving Zimmerman less? Zimmerman has been marketed for years as the face of the franchise, is by far the most popular National with the fans, has accomplished more than any other player since the team came to DC, and clearly outperformed Werth last season.

I think they're inevitably going to end up "overpaying" Zimmerman as well. "Overpaying" is in quotes because Zimmerman may well end up providing good value on the deal if he stays healthy and ages well. He is a truly great player.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:17 PM (#4027754)
Is Fielder enough of an upgrade over LaRoche to warrant spending $20-25M per season?

Depends on what their eventual payroll looks like.

I think Fielder's a good bet to give you ~4 WAR p.a. for the next 5 years. I'd be happy paying him 5/100.

If washington is going to run a "big market" payroll, say $150M, then slightly overpaying that to have Fielder as a cornerstone of your lineup isn't terrible.

If they give him 7/160, yeah, it's ridiculous.
   22. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:21 PM (#4027762)
There's been enough discussion here on what Fielder is "really worth," but I'm still surprised how subdued the market, on the surface, has been for Fielder.
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:30 PM (#4027777)
but I'm still surprised how subdued the market, on the surface, has been for Fielder.

I'm really not. There's no one with both the money, and a glaring need.

Milwaukee would surely take him back for 5/100, but who else?

StL will fill the spot by moving Berkman.
Tex spent their money on Darvish.
NYM and LAD are broke.
NYY and Bos are set at 1B and DH.

So, it's WAS, SEA or CHC, and none should be desperate. He's not putting any of them over the top this year.
   24. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:34 PM (#4027785)
I'm really not. There's no one with both the money, and a glaring need.


You're right, but I guess I bought into the media hype of "two of the best first basemen in the game" hitting the free agent waters at the same time.

It'll be interesting to see if Fielder has to drastically reduce his expectations or if he'll wait it out until one team is foolish enough to meet his demands.
   25. SG Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4027796)
There's been enough discussion here on what Fielder is "really worth," but I'm still surprised how subdued the market, on the surface, has been for Fielder.


Fielder seems to have run into a perfect storm of circumstances that has suppressed his market, although I suppose it only takes one bidder to change that.

He became a free agent in the same season as a first-ballot Hall of Famer who just helped his team win the World Series.

The two wealthiest teams in baseball are both set at first base long-term and can't really even feign any realistic interest which is probably keeping the bidding down.

Adding a second wild card(if it happens this year)
a) makes it a little easier to make the postseason
b) makes making the postseason as a wild card worth a bit less since you're essentially even-money to lose the play-in game

So I'd think a team that's on the periphery of wild card contention has less incentive to add two or three wins to try and get over that hump. But I could be pulling that out of my ass.

I think the first two things are the bigger issue.

   26. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4027804)
SG

You are missing that a good many front offices are concerned Prince will get truly obese and be out of the league in 3-4 years after he signs a big deal.

   27. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:46 PM (#4027808)
Also, with the contract to Ramirez I doubt the Brewers would take Prince back now at 20 million per. Doug Melvin gave Boras his best offer, Boras smirked so Doug moved on down the road.
   28. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4027811)
Not meaning that Melvin would give Prince the cold shoulder out of being petty but that once Boras declined Melvin allocated funds elsewhere. Money isn't there to give a big contract.
   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4027819)
You are missing that a good many front offices are concerned Prince will get truly obese and be out of the league in 3-4 years after he signs a big deal.

Is a weight clause not permitted in MLB contracts?

Not meaning that Melvin would give Prince the cold shoulder out of being petty but that once Boras declined Melvin allocated funds elsewhere. Money isn't there to give a big contract.

Are you assuming they'll extent Greinke? Otherwise, it looks like they could swing it if they want to (just perusing Cots).
   30. SG Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4027824)
You are missing that a good many front offices are concerned Prince will get truly obese and be out of the league in 3-4 years after he signs a big deal.


True, very good point and probably a big part of it.
   31. TerpNats Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4027825)
Another factor, one that shouldn't be discounted: In Washington's long and checkered baseball history, it has never had a bona fide black star playing on its MLB team. For a black star in D.C., you'd have to go back to the Homestead Grays' glory days. If there's any market that could use a black star, it's Washington, home to a large and affluent black community. I don't sign Fielder specifically for that reason, but there are obvious ancillary benefits.
   32. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:55 PM (#4027827)
You are missing that a good many front offices are concerned Prince will get truly obese and be out of the league in 3-4 years after he signs a big deal.


Yeah, my impression is that Fielder's expectations were to match or at least get close to what Pujols got, but he's not as good as Pujols and even being 5 years younger is probably a worse bet to age well. My guess is that when he saw what Pujols got, he wanted something comparable, in terms of both years and $/year and nobody's coming close to either one of those. If I was running a team, I'd be willing to start the conversation at 5/$100 and maybe go up a bit from there, but not past maybe 7 years or maybe $22m per year (but not both).
   33. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:57 PM (#4027830)
snapper

No idea. Don't know if one exists in Prince's current contract.

As to Greinke, Melvin has seen his team win 90 and 96 games with solid starting pitching and be an also ran without it.

Yes, if Greinke would sign a 3 plus year deal Doug would JUMP at it.

Right or wrong I get the sense that Doug believes the organization can develop bats but that their pitching has to come from outside.
   34. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:57 PM (#4027831)
You are missing that a good many front offices are concerned Prince will get truly obese and be out of the league in 3-4 years after he signs a big deal.

Is a weight clause not permitted in MLB contracts.
IIRC, Schilling had one in his last contract with the Sox. I figure this moot, though - offering a non-guaranteed contract seems like a good way to piss off Prince Fielder rather than begin negotiations to sign him.
   35. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 03, 2012 at 01:59 PM (#4027834)
Kiko

It isn't just what Prince wants. Again, it's what Boras may have PROMISED.

I do not 'know' anything but it would not surprise me in setting expectations that Prince was told he would either get a great annual number or a great long-term deal and that if he got both it was a GREAT day FAR exceeding what was thought possible.
   36. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 03, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4027836)
Matt

It takes quite a bit to upset Prince.

If you want to end a discussoin quickly bring up his father in any way shape or form.
   37. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4027837)
IIRC, Schilling had one in his last contract with the Sox. I figure this moot, though - offering a non-guaranteed contract seems like a good way to piss off Prince Fielder rather than begin negotiations to sign him.

Not non-guaranteed, just make a substantial part of his salary (say 50%) dependent on "making weight" at various points in the season.

If he's pissed off, he can take someone elses' offer.
   38. SOLockwood Posted: January 03, 2012 at 02:04 PM (#4027842)
Is a weight clause not permitted in MLB contracts.


The problem is that the weight clause would have to be worded as an incentive / addition to the base contract amount. It's very doubtful that the base would be low enough to make the weight clause a sufficient insurance policy.
   39. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 03, 2012 at 02:04 PM (#4027843)
Another factor, one that shouldn't be discounted: In Washington's long and checkered baseball history, it has never had a bona fide black star playing on its MLB team.


Hey, this is a grave insult to Bennie Daniels and Ed Stroud.

[edited spelling]
[also, too bad Dmitri Young didn't last]
   40. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: January 03, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4027845)
It takes quite a bit to upset Prince.

If you want to end a discussoin quickly bring up his father in any way shape or form.


Or Guillermo Mota.
   41. TerpNats Posted: January 03, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4027851)
Another factor, one that shouldn't be discounted: In Washington's long and checkered baseball history, it has never had a bona fide black star playing on its MLB team.

Hey, this is a grave insult to Bennie Daniels and Ed Stround.
Actually, it was "Stroud," and the guy I was thinking of in that category was Chuck Hinton.
   42. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 03, 2012 at 02:23 PM (#4027872)
Maybe they found some obscure provision in Werth's contract that voids it if he gets eaten by a teammate.
   43. ColonelTom Posted: January 03, 2012 at 02:30 PM (#4027883)
Rumor has Fielder looking for an opt-out clause after 3 years or so. That might faze some teams, but it should fit the Nats perfectly. If he opts out after 3 years, the Nats move Morse back to 1B and Werth to a corner. Put it this way - if they could get Fielder at 3yrs/$66M or so, they'd be fools not to do it. Obviously that comes with the risk that Fielder eats his way into oblivion and doesn't opt out, but at his age, he should be motivated by the chance for one more huge payday if the overall contract isn't more than 6 years.
   44. Chris Needham Posted: January 03, 2012 at 02:30 PM (#4027884)
I love what Mike Morse has done. And maybe he's turned the corner. But he's had 1.5 great years. Let's not pencil him as some sort of mainstay for the next decade -- let alone that he's already 29 years old, and wont' be a FA til he's (what?) 31?
   45. Chris Needham Posted: January 03, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4027887)
And someone linked to the Zuckerman story earlier. I think that that's WAY to simplistic a take -- it's stuck with the thinking that this team isn't a big market team. Their media rights are being renegotiated, which could add as much as $50 million more per year to this team. If they added Prince for $30 million this year, they'd still be under $100 million in payroll -- and have the makings of a playoff contender.

With the suckiness of the Skins and Caps, there's a HUGE market upside here. And as the esteemed TerpsNats points out, if they're riding it on the lumpy shoulders of an African American, all the better.
   46. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2012 at 02:50 PM (#4027910)
Maybe they found some obscure provision in Werth's contract that voids it if he gets eaten by a teammate.

Isn't every player contract voided in that case? Or by any cause of death, really? ;-)
   47. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 03, 2012 at 02:52 PM (#4027914)
The problem is that the weight clause would have to be worded as an incentive / addition to the base contract amount. It's very doubtful that the base would be low enough to make the weight clause a sufficient insurance policy.

I'm thinking $12M base salary, $500K incentive for being under X lbs on each of 20 selected dates, or something like that.
   48. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 03, 2012 at 02:52 PM (#4027915)
As a fan who was beguiled by Bill Hall I completely understand Chris' point about Mike Morse. Who knows if this is real?
   49. Bourbon Samurai, what price fettucine? Posted: January 03, 2012 at 03:11 PM (#4027929)
If anything will get Prince to renounce his vegetarianism, it will be Ben's Chili Bowl.
   50. Walt Davis Posted: January 03, 2012 at 08:40 PM (#4028278)
Didn't Frank Thomas's contract with the Sox have some sort of fitness clause? I recall a big hullabaloo over some strange contract provision.
   51. Lassus Posted: January 03, 2012 at 08:50 PM (#4028287)
Whoa, I had no idea Morse was that old.
   52. Greg Pope Posted: January 03, 2012 at 08:53 PM (#4028290)
Didn't Frank Thomas's contract with the Sox have some sort of fitness clause? I recall a big hullabaloo over some strange contract provision.

Yeah, that's the problem with these clauses. Thomas had the "diminished skills" clause, which was based on some numbers, not sure what. And then was insulted when the Sox excercised it.
   53. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 03, 2012 at 09:34 PM (#4028315)
Good thing Thomas learned from that and didn't sign any other contracts that led to a team inciting his fury by rationally deciding not to pay him something.
   54. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 03, 2012 at 09:38 PM (#4028317)
Whoa, I had no idea Morse was that old.


Yeah, his fifty-game steroid suspension was over 6 years ago. At that time he was a shortstop with the Mariners.

He was taken in the same draft as such oldsters as Grady Sizemore, David DeJesus, and Brandon Webb.
   55. Stormy JE Posted: January 03, 2012 at 09:54 PM (#4028330)
With the suckiness of the Skins and Caps, there's a HUGE market upside here.

Are you joking, Chris? The Caps are in second place. Moreover, their ticket revenue climbed 82 per cent in five seasons to $1 million per game last year.
   56. bfan Posted: January 03, 2012 at 10:25 PM (#4028346)
With the suckiness of the Skins and Caps


How can we identify DC suckiness, and not hit the suckiest of the sucky group of franchises up there; the never seem to get anywhere wizzies.
   57. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 03, 2012 at 11:22 PM (#4028367)
Rumor has Fielder looking for an opt-out clause after 3 years or so. That might faze some teams, but it should fit the Nats perfectly. If he opts out after 3 years, the Nats move Morse back to 1B and Werth to a corner. Put it this way - if they could get Fielder at 3yrs/$66M or so, they'd be fools not to do it. Obviously that comes with the risk that Fielder eats his way into oblivion and doesn't opt out, but at his age, he should be motivated by the chance for one more huge payday if the overall contract isn't more than 6 years.


Of course he'd like a 3 year opt out, just as he'd like a $300M 10 year deal. You realize that adding an opt-out clause makes it a far worse deal for the National's don't you? There are two general scenarios and the Nationals do poorly in both. Let's assume the Nats are able to sign Fielder to a 7 year $120M deal with a 3 year opt-out.

Scenario 1) Fielder does not decline.

He stays in shape, and plays well enough to get a substantial improvement in free agency over the remainder of his contract in 3 years. The Nationals get a good, but not great value on 3 years, and miss out on any future value from Fielder (and any draft pick compensation). And odds are there will be significant future value if teams are willing to pay over $80M for his next 4 years plus take on the risk of future years. He clearly will have shown he's a good bet to stay healthy and useful.

Scenario 2) Fielder declines.

He does not stay in shape, or he does and still declines, and teams realize his value isn't enough to even pay him $80M over 4 years, so he sticks with his deal. Now the Nationals are stuck paying $20M to a first baseman who is already overpaid and has 4 more years to get fatter, slower, and less valuable. They get crushed in this scenario. Oh, and they don't get any draft pick compensation in 7 years because he'll suck too much to offer the qualifying contract to.

Without the option, the Nats get 100% of the upside and take 100% of the downside in a 7 year guaranteed deal. With the option, Prince gets to go out in 3 years and re-sell most of the upside to another team, and the Nationals are still stuck with 100% of the downside. Prince might be motivated a bit more with the 3 year opt out, but not necessarily much. If a big boy wants to eat, do you think he'll stop himself by saying, "hey, you are only worth $140M if you eat this, but if you live with the hunger for 3 more years, you could be worth $200M!"?

You want to really motivate him? Tell him it will have to be a mutual 3 year opt-out. If he doesn't generate 12 WAR in the next 3 years the Nationals can opt out of the last 4 years for $1M.
   58. Athletic Supporter is USDA certified lean Posted: January 03, 2012 at 11:44 PM (#4028376)
If he doesn't generate 12 WAR in the next 3 years the Nationals can opt out of the last 4 years for $1M.


George W. Bush signed a contract like this once, and look where it got us.
   59. Something Other Posted: January 04, 2012 at 12:54 AM (#4028402)
@53: From TFA:
Ricciardi said the Blue Jays offered Thomas "a lesser role playing two or three times a week," but weren't surprised the veteran slugger chose not to accept.
The Jays were paying Thomas a small fortune to be terrible, right? And when they released him they still had to pay almost all of his salary. I can see agreeing to release him in return for not paying his salary, but how does that work where you ask the guy who's making 8m and sucks, to pretty please accept a reduced role; he says No, so you release him while paying the entirety of his salary.

WTF?
   60. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: January 04, 2012 at 09:51 AM (#4028505)
The Jays were paying Thomas a small fortune to be terrible, right? And when they released him they still had to pay almost all of his salary. I can see agreeing to release him in return for not paying his salary, but how does that work where you ask the guy who's making 8m and sucks, to pretty please accept a reduced role; he says No, so you release him while paying the entirety of his salary.


Thomas put up a 125 OPS+ the year before. He then had 72 bad PAs. This was the Jays' blatantly trying to avoid his option vesting. After the release he put up an OBP-heavy 105 OPS+ in Oakland, which isn't great but is useful. It was quite obvious what the Jays were doing.
   61. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2012 at 10:04 AM (#4028517)
You realize that adding an opt-out clause makes it a far worse deal for the National's don't you? There are two general scenarios and the Nationals do poorly in both. Let's assume the Nats are able to sign Fielder to a 7 year $120M deal with a 3 year opt-out.

There is a third scenario.

3) Fielder plays well for three years, then craters in his early 30's.

Fielder can play well enough to trick some team into given him a 5/125 Ryan Howard deal at 31, and then completely crater.

I think this is a fairly likely scenario, and would an opt out would save the Nationals a dreadful 4/80 contract, if their smart enough not to re-up him.

I'd give Fielder 6/120, with a 3 year opt-out, providing he defers a $10M signing bonus that he forfeits if he opts out. That way, in the opt-out situation, you got 3 good years for $50M.

   62. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 04, 2012 at 10:11 AM (#4028521)
Other high profile free agents have signed in early January in the past. Tex signed in early January. I don't think it begins to get truly curious until about the 15th.
   63. Nasty Nate Posted: January 04, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4028557)
There is a third scenario.

3) Fielder plays well for three years, then craters in his early 30's.

Fielder can play well enough to trick some team into given him a 5/125 Ryan Howard deal at 31, and then completely crater.

I think this is a fairly likely scenario, and would an opt out would save the Nationals a dreadful 4/80 contract, if their smart enough not to re-up him.


I think you are over-rating the likeliness of this scenario. If he plays well enough and shows sufficient fitness for ages 28-30, the team almost certainly would want him on the team for ages 31-33 (even at a high salary). Your chain of events in which the opt-out being a blessing in disguise for the team pretty much relies on him having a great season in 2014 but eat his way into becoming a mediocre player in the months after signing the new contract.

I'd give Fielder 6/120, with a 3 year opt-out, providing he defers a $10M signing bonus that he forfeits if he opts out. That way, in the opt-out situation, you got 3 good years for $50M.


This type of structure is an interesting idea. The option may help entice him to sign, but he wouldn't opt-out unless he thought he could beat 3/70 (or whatever amount at a higher level than his existing salary) or he was unhappy.
   64. ...and Toronto selects: Troy Tulowitzki Posted: January 04, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4028654)
It was quite obvious what the Jays were doing.

Certainly was. They saw a 40 year old player was struggling badly and believed that age had finally caught up to him. Fearing they'd be stuck paying him $19 MM to slug 240/349/374 (TOR/OAK '08) for the next two years, the took measures to just pay $9 MM for his remaining production.
   65. ColonelTom Posted: January 04, 2012 at 12:20 PM (#4028660)
You realize that adding an opt-out clause makes it a far worse deal for the National's don't you?


As I said in the paragraph you quoted, "Obviously that comes with the risk that Fielder eats his way into oblivion and doesn't opt out." Equally obviously, if they had the choice between signing Fielder for 3yrs/$66M straight up or, say, 5yrs/$110M with a 3-year opt-out clause, they'd choose the former. Alas, if there are other teams vying for his services, they have to make him a compelling offer. I could be wrong, but even in this market, I doubt he'll end up going for as little as 3yrs/$66M.

Without the option, the Nats get 100% of the upside and take 100% of the downside in a 7 year guaranteed deal. With the option, Prince gets to go out in 3 years and re-sell most of the upside to another team, and the Nationals are still stuck with 100% of the downside.


"Most of the upside" disregards that, if he opts out, they'd have had 3 years of one of the game's top offensive players. That's worth something, including (to a point, obviously) taking on the risk that he craters and doesn't opt out.
   66. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 04, 2012 at 12:27 PM (#4028668)
There is a third scenario.

3) Fielder plays well for three years, then craters in his early 30's.

Fielder can play well enough to trick some team into given him a 5/125 Ryan Howard deal at 31, and then completely crater.

I think this is a fairly likely scenario,
I don't think it's likely at all. This works if Fielder plays well for exactly three years, and then craters within five years. If he has a poor third season, you're on the hook for his decline. If he opts out and plays well for three more years, or has a more normal, gradual decline rather than cratering, you've lost out.
   67. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2012 at 12:34 PM (#4028673)
I don't think it's likely at all. This works if Fielder plays well for exactly three years, and then craters within five years. If he has a poor third season, you're on the hook for his decline. If he opts out and plays well for three more years, or has a more normal, gradual decline rather than cratering, you've lost out.

I disagree.

If you structure the AAV evenly (i.e. no backloading) you're very likely underpaying in the early years, and over paying later.

If he signs a "fair" deal, it's very likely his first 3-years are more than worth the money, and the next three aren't worth it. Almost every team would do well to cancel the second half of a long-term FA contract, even if the player performs well in the beginning.

There's almost no chance that Fielder wildly outperforms his contract, so the risk of losing the second half is minimal. Yes you still own the catastrophe risk, but an opt-out can get the team off the hook for a early-30's fat-man cratering.

If my choice was give Prince 6/120 with opt-out or 6/130 w/o, I'd give him the opt-out.
   68. Nasty Nate Posted: January 04, 2012 at 12:37 PM (#4028680)
obviously, if they had the choice between signing Fielder for 3yrs/$66M straight up or, say, 5yrs/$110M with a 3-year opt-out clause, they'd choose the former.


Yes. But I think when you wrote that an opt-out would "fit perfectly" for the Nats, it was maybe implied that 5/$110m with the opt-out clause might be preferable to 5/$110m without the opt-out for the Nats. I'm not sure if that's what you meant.
   69. ColonelTom Posted: January 04, 2012 at 12:48 PM (#4028691)
No. He fits the Nats perfectly because the downside to the opt-out is smaller for the Nats than for most teams, because if Fielder leaves after 3 good years, they can move Morse and Werth back to their ideal defensive positions, recouping some of the WAR lost in Fielder's departure. It's a silver lining to the gray cloud of his opting out after 3 successful years.

Snapper gets it. There is negative value to the opt-out for the Nats, but it's not nearly as large as others seem to think. The back end of the contract is high-risk even if Fielder is wildly successful in the first 3 years, but Fielder's likely to opt out anyway in that scenario (and he will find suitors).
   70. Nasty Nate Posted: January 04, 2012 at 12:52 PM (#4028697)
If he signs a "fair" deal, it's very likely his first 3-years are more than worth the money, and the next three aren't worth it. Almost every team would do well to cancel the second half of a long-term FA contract, even if the player performs well in the beginning.


But they only get to "cancel" the second half of the long-term contract in the few occasions when they wouldn't want to!!

edit: and I disagree that almost every team would do well. I bet if we look back at all the times a player has done well in the first half of a long deal there would be a significant chunk of them where the team would be worse off without the second half of the contract - even with hindsight.
   71. Nasty Nate Posted: January 04, 2012 at 12:56 PM (#4028706)
No. He fits the Nats perfectly because the downside to the opt-out is smaller for the Nats than for most teams, because if Fielder leaves after 3 good years, they can move Morse and Werth back to their ideal defensive positions, recouping some of the WAR lost in Fielder's departure. It's a silver lining to the gray cloud of his opting out after 3 successful years.


Ok, I getcha now. Yes, I can see how an opt-out would be easier to offer for some teams than others (similar to a no-trade clause).
   72. GuyM Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:04 PM (#4028717)
I love what Mike Morse has done. And maybe he's turned the corner. But he's had 1.5 great years. Let's not pencil him as some sort of mainstay for the next decade

I think there's a high probability that Morse declines next year, and maybe by a lot. Since 2000, there have been 178 player-seasons with an OPS+ of 145 or higher, including Morse at 147 last year. On average, these players have had a K:BB ratio of 1.15. Only 8 have come with a K:BB ratio of greater than 2, and only two are above 2.5: Brett Boone's 2.75 (2001) and Morse at 3.50 (!). Basically, no one has hit this well while posting such a poor K:BB ratio. Morse also has the worst BB rate (tied with Boone) in this group. Why pitchers continued to throw him pitches he could hit, I don't know -- but I can't believe it will continue.
   73. ColonelTom Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:15 PM (#4028743)
Here's a related link - David Cameron of USS Mariner discusses whether a backloaded Fielder deal with an opt-out would make sense for Seattle.
   74. TerpNats Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:25 PM (#4028758)
David Cameron of USS Mariner discusses whether a backloaded Fielder deal with an opt-out would make sense for Seattle.
It might make sense for Seattle, but it doesn't make sense for Fielder. Even with the second wild card, the Mariners are essentially the Orioles of the West, albeit with an ace Baltimore doesn't have. Can't see the M's beating out the runnersup of Rangers/Angels/Rays/Yanks/Bosox for a wildcard berth.
   75. Nasty Nate Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:41 PM (#4028778)
Here's a related link - David Cameron of USS Mariner discusses whether a backloaded Fielder deal with an opt-out would make sense for Seattle.


His idea is that Boras might be willing to accept a deal that included both an opt-out and a greater total dollar amount than the Adrian Gonzalez contract, but is backloaded in a way that would make the opt-out only minimally negative to the M's and the actual value not as high as the headline-grabbing value.
   76. Martin Hemner Posted: January 04, 2012 at 01:51 PM (#4028794)
His idea is that Boras might be willing to accept a deal that included both an opt-out and a greater total dollar amount than the Adrian Gonzalez contract, but is backloaded in a way that would make the opt-out only minimally negative to the M's and the actual value not as high as the headline-grabbing value.

Sign Fielder to a guaranteed contract for 3/75. After three years, he can choose to opt out, or remain with the club. If he chooses to remain, the team can elect to give him another 3/75 contract or a series of 1/35 contracts (the first year of which the team must pick up). Fielder is guaranteed $110 million, and both he and the team have an out if his production either exceeds expectations or is below expectations.
   77. Something Other Posted: January 04, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4028821)
@60, 64--Ah, okay. I didn't realize the money wasn't guaranteed.
   78. Something Other Posted: January 04, 2012 at 02:19 PM (#4028838)
Here's a related link - David Cameron of USS Mariner discusses whether a backloaded Fielder deal with an opt-out would make sense for Seattle.

From that link's comments page:

Clever idea. I also agree that this should not be the Mariners’ first choice, but if the team is dead set on pursuing Fielder, this is the way to do it.

The scary part is those last four years at $25M+ per year; there’s a non-trivial possibility that the M’s would get stuck paying that amount to a player who would increasingly not be worth it. However as Dave says, that’s somewhat made up for by the M’s having benefited from below-market payments to Fielder the first three years.
If by "non-trivial possibility" the poster means 90+% then, sure. Cameron's proposal puts the last four years of the deal including the buyout of the eighth year at 4/110m. Is there any chance, really, that Fielder is going to find some sucker, er, team, willing to give a guy who is currently only at best a 5 WAR player, more than that?

Cameron's proposal makes the opt-out all but meaningless. It's essentially a very, very backloaded deal. Nothing more.
   79. Nasty Nate Posted: January 04, 2012 at 02:42 PM (#4028864)
Cameron's proposal puts the last four years of the deal including the buyout of the eighth year at 4/110m. Is there any chance, really, that Fielder is going to find some sucker, er, team, willing to give a guy who is currently only at best a 5 WAR player, more than that?

Cameron's proposal makes the opt-out all but meaningless. It's essentially a very, very backloaded deal. Nothing more.


Right, it doesn't have much practical value but it might make Boras happy to be able to claim to other clients (and would-be clients) that he was able to get an opt-out. Also, there is a chance, albeit tiny, that the opt-out would come into play, such as unexpected inflation or Ruben Amaro becoming the team's GM.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Dock Ellis
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOTP 2018 September 24: Baseball and the presidency
(328 - 6:44pm, Sep 24)
Last: Morty Causa

NewsblogFowler, still owed almost $50 million, eager to be part of Cardinals' future | St. Louis Cardinals | stltoday.com
(11 - 6:41pm, Sep 24)
Last: KJOK

NewsblogScrabble added 300 words, none of them OMNICHATTER! for Sept. 24, 2018
(3 - 6:23pm, Sep 24)
Last: Bote Man the walk-off king

NewsblogFive Tool Players | Articles | Bill James Online
(35 - 6:11pm, Sep 24)
Last: Moeball

NewsblogTickets available as Marlins host Reds
(75 - 6:04pm, Sep 24)
Last: Eric J can SABER all he wants to

NewsblogOT - 2018 NBA Thread (Pre-Season Edition)
(553 - 5:45pm, Sep 24)
Last: If on a winter's night a baserunner

NewsblogLong-time White Sox broadcaster 'Hawk' Harrelson bids emotional farewell in home finale vs. Cubs
(25 - 5:43pm, Sep 24)
Last: JAHV

NewsblogAlen Hanson gets back-to-back starts, likely still in Giants’ plans
(6 - 5:30pm, Sep 24)
Last: Walt Davis

Gonfalon CubsThe Final Push
(184 - 5:29pm, Sep 24)
Last: Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington

NewsblogTim Anderson's eventful day at the yard ends with shot at Joe West: 'Everybody knows he's terrible'
(25 - 5:00pm, Sep 24)
Last: PreservedFish

Hall of MeritMost Meritorious Player: 1947 Discussion
(11 - 4:59pm, Sep 24)
Last: DL from MN

NewsblogKen Giles: ‘I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston’
(7 - 4:10pm, Sep 24)
Last: Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network)

NewsblogOT - Catch-All Pop Culture Extravaganza (September 2018)
(396 - 3:34pm, Sep 24)
Last: The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott)

NewsblogRangers' Adrian Beltre remains undecided about playing next season. Here's what he is certain of regarding the end.
(46 - 3:25pm, Sep 24)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

Hall of MeritMost Meritorious Player: 1947 Ballot
(2 - 2:48pm, Sep 24)
Last: John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy

Page rendered in 0.5666 seconds
48 querie(s) executed