Rob Neyer, writing for Baseball Nation, puts Prince Fielder’s deal with the Tigers in perspective:
Here’s something that might blow your mind: In 1990, the Royals’ team payroll was $23.2 million … and was the highest payroll in Major League Baseball.
That was then, of course. Comparing 1990 dollars to 2012 dollars isn’t really fair. Even so, it’s an interesting tidbit, and kind of surreal to think about: the Kansas City Royals had the highest payroll in baseball at one time. The Royals!
As for Fielder’s 9-year/$214M deal with Detroit, Neyer makes the argument that these long-term, big money contracts more often than not end up being an albatross around the neck of these teams. See:
- Mike Hampton
- Denny Neagle
- Alfonso Soriano
- AJ Burnett
- Barry Zito (my personal favorite)
My feelings about Fielder’s deal are similar to those I expressed regarding Albert’s. I know Prince is younger than Pujols -- he’ll “only” be 36 when his deal is up -- but the same reservation I have over the Pujols contract still applies. In other words, it’s the backend of the deal I’m worried about. If Fielder ever stops hitting homeruns, not only does his production drop, but so does his value. Should this happen, the Tigers are going to look back and rue the day they gave in to Scott Boras. (Keep in mind, too, that Fielder’s physique isn’t exactly optimized for long-term durability. It’s another aspect of this deal to worry about.)
As I said to close my piece on Pujols: Enjoy him while he lasts.