Prince Fielder has yet to make an impact in the postseason for the Tigers. (multimediaimpre, AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, Fickr)
The nine-year $214-million contract the Detroit Tigers signed Prince Fielder to just two seasons ago was not supposed to hurt the organization until the twilight-stretch of years seven, eight and nine. After just two though, it is clear it is time to call a spade-a-spade and admit the deal is going to crush the Tigers from here on out and they need to find a way out of his deal.
Some may say it is a little premature to dub Fielder’s performance as a failure, given the way he played in the regular season in 2012 and how he came on late in 2013. As it stands now though, Fielder looks like Alex Rodriguez, a guy who can produce when it does not count and disappears when it does. In just two postseasons with the Tigers, Fielder has a slash-line of .202/.268/.247 with one home run, against the Oakland A’s last year, and three RBIs with 17, count them 17, strikeouts.
Detroit struggled to hit with any power in the middle of the order in the ALDS and ALCS, with the exception of Jhonny Peralta, whose homers have given the Tigers hope before several inevitable collapse. A major part of those struggles came with Miguel Cabrera hobbled by an injury that robbed him of absolutely any semblance of home-run hitting power. Fielder picked up the slack in August and September hitting well with Cabrera missing, but he could not do the same thing in this season’s ALDS and ALCS. He has nine hits, one for extra-bases.
It is a puzzling conundrum. He was clearly the best free agent power hitter when the Tigers signed him. Fielder has struggled all-year to this point for the Tigers, his second with the team. Hitting under .300 and really tanking in the RBI department in the second half, with the home run ball being an almost non-factor. Yes there was his divorce and obviously no one can blame him if that off-the-field personal issue crept into his mind when he was sitting the batters box, but it cannot excuse everything for Fielder.
With his relative lack of production during the postseason, the part of the season the Tigers signed him for, it is time for Detroit to find a way out or move on from him.
It may be tough to swallow just two years in, but the money absorbed by Fielder could be used in many better fashions. Signing Max Scherzer long-term, acquiring a player like Robinson Cano or making a trade for another highly paid player who could fill in one of the many holes at third-base, second-base, right field, left field or catcher. These are just the position players too, we have not even talked about the bullpen yet.
The return for Fielder would be minimal and Detroit will have to live with that. In order to have a team eat his gigantic contract the Tigers would have to either eat his salary or literally take minor league scrubs that have relatively no hope of ever making a meaningful major league contribution. At this point though, it is necessary for the sake of keeping the payroll manageable for a club that needs to add several players, something a haul of prospects will not give the Tigers.
If anyone wants any proof for why the Tigers should dump Fielder, just take a look at his at-bats in the just over ALCS and the video will provide all the proof you need. Fielder is next to worthless when it counts and he has no place being on a club looking to win the World Series.