I don’t totally get this

Posted by Steve

Apparently the Brewers have not only avoided arbitration with Prince Fielder, but signed him to a two-year $18 million deal. Personally, I don’t really understand why.

This is not an extension. Fielder is not eligible for free agency for three more seasons, so he’ll actually have one year of arbitration eligibility left after this two-year deal.

It’s not that I think $18 mil for two years is way too much for Fielder, it’s that I’d just much rather have a one year deal for $7 or $7.5 mil. The Brewers submitted a price of $6 mil while Fielder submitted a price of $8 mil. Initial reports were that they would work out a deal before reaching an arbitration hearing, which is why I figured assuming 7 or 7.5 was safe.

Generally, I’m of the opinion that buying out arbitration years is not worth it unless you are buying out years of free agency (i.e. Ryan Braun’s extension last season). This obviously doesn’t do that, so I don’t really see the point. Sure, I understand this protects the Brewers if Fielder has a repeat of 2007, but it’s also a risk if Fielder regresses even more from 2008. That isn’t to say that I expect Fielder to regress, but you have to admit it’s not out of the realm of possibility that his weight could get even more out of control and his defense could get even worse. If Fielder would have made 7 mil this season, that means the Brewers feel he’ll be worth $11 mil or more next season. If he did regress though, he would not have received 11 mil in arbitration next year. In that scenario the Brewers come out as losers.

On a semi-related note, this probably means I need to lay my Adam Dunn aspirations to rest. Signing Fielder to a two-year deal definitely indicates the Brewers are not considering trading him. I think this is a mistake because this is a rare opportunity to get an even better slugger (Dunn) at an economy-discounted rate. Signing Dunn for first base and trading Fielder would have been a great way to add pitching on the cheap without losing any production at first base.

Sigh. I definitely had higher hopes for this off-season than were apparently warranted.


3 responses to “I don’t totally get this

  1. Why wouldn’t the team trading for Fielder just sign Dunn instead? They get an equal (or maybe as you suggest, better) slugger without giving up any pitching.

  2. I’ve heard this point made before. I’m not saying it isn’t valid, but perhaps only to a certain extent. Despite a growing statistical audience that values Dunn’s OBP and slugging, many teams are still viewing his low batting average and high strikeout totals as fatal flaws. The Angels come to mind. They have a need for a big slugger (they pursued Mark Teixeira) yet they haven’t shown any interest in Dunn. It’s the “Sciosciaball” steal bases and move the runner over philosophy.

    I believe the Angels would value Fielder more than Dunn because Prince hits for a higher batting average and strikes out less than Dunn, and I think it’s realistic to assume they’d trade for Fielder before signing Dunn.

    Doug Melvin is not a GM who would dock Dunn for his strikeout totals because he really values walks. I’ve heard him say multiple times that the Brewers have never had a player draw 100 walks, and it’s obvious that he’d be happy to have that type of hitter.

  3. That’s a good point. I guess I’m falling into the trap of assuming all GM’s value players the same way I do.

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