The agents always say all it takes is "one dumb owner" for a player to get a huge payday in free agency. And nobody is better at finding that one dumb owner than Scott Boras.
Once again, it appears Boras has coerced a major league team to bid against itself for the services of one of his players. How else can you explain the nine-year, $214 million contract the Detroit Tigers just gave Prince Fielder?
We talked last week about Detroit needing another bat after losing designated hitter Victor Martinez to injury, but I never imagined they would make such an overpay for Fielder -- who was the most accomplished hitter left on the market.
But honestly, why was it necessary for the Tigers to give Fielder NINE YEARS? None of the big spenders were in the market for a slugging first baseman. The New York Yankees (Mark Teixeira), Boston (Adrian Gonzalez) and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Albert Pujols) already have their guys at that spot. Texas can already mash and opted to spend its money on pitching. The Cubs are in rebuilding mode and staying away from the big free agents this offseason.
If not Detroit, where was Fielder going to go? Washington? There couldn't have been any sort of bidding war for this guy. No way.
The Tigers didn't need to give Fielder any more than five or six years to sign him. Now, they are stuck with a guy who weighs at least 270 pounds for the next nine years.
Sure, this move makes sense in the short run. Barring something unforeseen, Detroit is going to win the AL Central this year. If their pitching comes around, hell, the Tigers might even compete for a World Series championship.
But what happens next year when Martinez comes back? Fielder, Martinez and Miguel Cabrera can't all DH.
Not to mention, a few years down the line the Tigers might find themselves in a similar position as the White Sox and the Minnesota Twins are in right now.
The Sox are going to stink for the forseeable future because they've got too much money wrapped up in just a handful of players (Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Jake Peavy). Likewise, the Twins have lost some quality talent in free agency the past couple offseasons because they can't afford to pay anyone with the Joe Mauer albatross hanging around their necks.
The day will come when the Tigers have to pay some of the younger players on their roster who are working for cheap now. Will Detroit be able to retain Brennan Boesch, Austin Jackson, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, et al., while at the same time paying Fielder all this money? We'll see.
There are some Sox fans who are melting down as a result of this signing. I see no point in such fretting. Nothing has changed for the Sox. They aren't good and won't be good for 2-3 years. While the Sox struggle, Detroit will have its window to win. By the time the Sox return to contention, the time will come for the Tigers to make tough decisions on some of the younger players I listed above, and Fielder and Cabrera will be a few years older. Cabrera's contract is up after 2015. Detroit ace Justin Verlander is under contract through 2014.
I'm thinking the Tigers' window to win just might close around the same time the Sox window opens back up.