Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman recently wrote an article stating that the Baltimore Orioles were the leading candidate to land the services of soon-to-be free agent first baseman Prince Fielder.
The Orioles do seem like an obvious fit, but there are a bunch of hurdles standing between Fielder and Baltimore.
The biggest obstacle is owner Peter Angelos, who hasn’t opened up the checkbook to a marquee free agent in almost a decade. Angelos has become very stingy with his money, and the O’s only made a half-hearted attempt to bring Maryland native Mark Teixeira back to Baltimore a few years ago.
Even if Angelos does make Fielder a priority, there are a number of other teams with plenty of cash that could outbid them. The Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals, Texas Rangers and even Florida Marlins are just a few of the clubs with either a massive hole at first base or a lot of cash to throw around this offseason.
Even if they aren’t outbid, Fielder might take less money to play for a team that isn’t destined for the cellar of the division every single year.
There’s also concern about giving someone Fielder’s size an enormous (no pun intended) contract. He is only 27-years old, which certainly helps his cause, but it still only seems like a matter of time before his body breaks down.
Fielder is a below-average defensive first baseman and is obviously very slow, so you are only paying for his services at the plate.
There is also the question of whether the O’s wouldn’t be better off saving all of that money and investing it in other ways. In that case, they could just use Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis in some fashion at those corner infield spots. Reynolds showed promise after struggling the first month and a half while Davis has looked pretty good in September.
There are some advantages to signing Fielder, such as the short porch in right field awaiting him. The warehouse just might be within his reach. He would fill a huge hole in the O’s lineup and give the organization some credibility after so many free agents have passed up on the more lucrative contract to sign elsewhere.
It might also give the current players on the roster a boost knowing that one of the game’s top players was coming to Baltimore. It would take some of the pressure off of them and also give them hope that the organization is really trying to improve the club and turn it into a contender.
Either way, there are sure to be a number of major changes announced by the club before we even get around to the free agency period.