With the Rangers signing of Yu Darvish to a 6 year, $60 million dollar deal yesterday, all eyes do a slow turn back to one of the most attractive (in a talent sense) MLB free agents left unsigned, Prince Fielder, formally of the Milwaukee Brewers. Fielder, who finished third in the NL MVP voting behind Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp, is coming off of a monster year, one that should net him some serious green.
In 2011, the already esteemed Fielder had a breakout year where he batted .299 with a whopping 38 home runs. He led the league in intentional walks and was third in slugging percentage at .566. In fact, if you ignore his horrendous defensive stats that saw him lead the majors in errors committed by a first baseman (15) and lowest fielding percentage of all first basemen (.990), this guy should have been one of the hottest commodities once MLB free agency began.
Yet he's still available and it's getting to the point where it's the unavoidable elephant in the corner type of thing that he is. So, why exactly, hasn't he been picked up yet?
Well, the first answer to that question comes down to the pocketbook, naturally. Scott Boras, Prince's agent, is looking for a deal that will net his client eight or 10 years and close to $200 million or, at the very least, a shorter deal that averages approximately the $25.2 million per year that Albert Pujols’ new contract with the Angels averages. That's a large chunk of change to be tossed at any person, let alone a 27 year old power hitter who is a defensive liability.
The second answer, and the one that may sound ridiculous but is probably closer to the truth, is that Fielder's image has all but scared away the majority of suitors with money. You see, and I'm not trying to be disrespectful here, the majority of owners in the MLB are very conservative and looking at the way Prince Fielder takes care of himself, well, that may lead to them not wanting to pay him that type of cash.
Fielder carries himself like he's been living under an overpass for the majority of his adult life. He's unkempt and haphazard, appearance wise (putting it in the kindest way here), leading many to wonder if his temperament is similar to his appearance.
Look, I know that sounds superficial but just take a good look at baseball as a whole and you'll get where I'm coming from. The Yankees, the most respected organization in the league, requires a player to look a certain way, in regards to hygienically. Baseball itself, as a whole, follows that philosophy in an unspoken way because the sport views itself in a classical sense. It's a throwback to a softer American time and it still wants to reflect that heritage. The shaggy look of Fielder, while totally acceptable in normal society, marks him as an outsider in baseball terms and may seriously be keeping him form obtaining the riches he is asking for.
The bottom line is that the guy will eventually be signed, the Rangers and Nationals are the current frontrunners, his talent is too unmistakable. But in regards to why he wasn't the first priority for any team out there this free agent, well, he just has to look in the mirror on that one, and maybe grab a razor why he's doing it.
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