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.