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Prince Fielder Nats Roundtable (With Bonus Prince Fielder Poll!)

Jamie Mottram: It’s been months, and “the Nats look like Prince Fielder favorites,” but I’m still not sure I want him on the Nats, nor do I have a good sense of what it’ll take to get him. I’m pretty sure I’m against it, though, mostly because I don’t want to sink big money into a big first baseman, even one who’s relatively young and can really rake. How about you?

Jack Kogod: Important question: Is he still a vegetarian? (Ed. note: Reportedly not.)

Andy Peden: I’m adamantly opposed to signing him for more than six years. Five is better, but I might bite at six. When he slows down, there is nowhere to hid him, so an eight- or 10-year deal is a death sentence. They already have a long-term issue with Werth. But since the market hasn’t developed like Boras wanted, maybe a five- or six-year deal worth $23-$25 million is possible.

If you do sign him, you obviously trade LaRoche at some point for whatever you can get. And I think you pray Morse has a good first half and you trade him as well. Long term, Morse will have to be at 1B. With Prince signed, we would be committing to him at 1B, Harper in CF or RF and Werth either at LF or CF. With that said, even with a shorter-term deal, I’m probably against signing him. In the NL, I think you want to keep flexibility at 1B. At some point, Morse, Zim or even Werth might end up there.

My expectation is we don’t sign Prince, trade LaRoche at the deadline and then move Morse to 1B just about the time Harper makes his debut.

JP Finlay: I’m torn. I think he could be a lot of fun and the Nats lineup would be pretty loaded. The excitement of Opening Day with Strasburg on the mound and Prince hitting cleanup is almost impossible to imagine. The city would go nuts, something needed between the Wiz, Skins and even the Caps. A fat dude hitting a lot of home runs would definitely be fun.

Looking at it pragmatically, I don’t like it. I think Zim deserves to be a career National, and for that to happen we’ll probably eventually move him to 1B. Especially if this kid Rendon is as good as everyone says he is.

Plus there is the Morse situation. I like Morse, a lot, and think he could be almost as good as Prince and significantly cheaper. Not to mention some of the worries with Prince (health, fitness, fatness) don’t exist with Morse. At least fitness and fatness.

Bottom line for me: Prince will cost too much money in a position we don’t really need. If we get some short-term deal, five years or under, take it, but I don’t see Boras letting that happen. I’d rather wait until next year — and extend Zim — and get the CF the Nats need.

Kogod: I tend to agree with JP and Andy. If they can get him for a relative bargain then I’d be on board. If they hadn’t committed so much to Werth I might be more eager, but having them both under contract through 2018 doesn’t seem prudent.

Chris Mottram: Anything beyond a five- or six-year deal is complete insanity. Prince will be 28 when the season starts. It’s hard to imagine there won’t be a dramatic decline in his production by the time he’s 34, not to mention him becoming a liability in the field [via aforementioned fatness]. For (possibly unfair) comparison’s sake, his father’s production fell off a cliff at age 33.

JP made the best point: It’s a ton of money for a spot the Nats can fill with the players currently in their system. Prince’s bat in the lineup would be huge, assuming his production continues, but the Werth deal (and being a D.C. sports fan, in general) makes me extremely gun-shy about supporting another $120+ million contract. I’d prefer the team continues to build around what they have and find out the roles their current young players can fill before handing out more massive contracts to free agent hitters.

Jamie Mottram: So I guess we’re against it.

D.C. sports fan and digital media guy that's been doing this since 2004. Once threw a football further than Chris Cooley.



  1. Jefferson

    January 19, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    If you have a chance to contend for a World Series for the next 3-4 years YOU DO IT.

    And if you have to regroup for a year or two at the end of his deal, then you suck it up and you do that. But at least you went for it and made a run at a title….or two….or three.

  2. ILM

    January 19, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Jefferson makes a real good point.

  3. Wcked Pixels

    January 19, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    The DC area may be a little weary of paying big bucks for a fat load. Perhaps we should see if he can pass the conditioning test before signing.

  4. NTPNate

    January 19, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    Ryan Zimmerman is 27 years old, and plays gold glove caliber defense at 3B. If we’re worrying today about having to move him to 1B in 5 or 6 years, then I suspect we’re missing the point, which is to have Zimm and Prince together in the middle of the lineup for the next 5 or 6 years.

    Michael Morse will be 30 on Opening Day, two years older than Fielder, and he has exactly 1.5 good major league seasons to his credit. I love Beast Mode, but Fielder and Zimmerman is a better long term bet at the infield corners than Morse and Zimmerman.

  5. Some JMU Dude

    January 19, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    I’m a ‘Skins fan living in Milwaukee, and the Brewers are my favorite team. I’ve been following Prince since his first year in the bigs.

    Let me just say – Prince is a hell of a dude. Absolute dynamite hitter, surprisingly athletic at 1B (you’ll really be surprised the first time he extends from 1st to catch a screamer on a double play), and pretty well behaved for a player of his caliber, both with fans and the media. We’re going to miss him badly in Milwaukee hitting right behind Braun (especially with the Braun herpes-fueled suspension coming up).

    My only gripe with Prince is this – I just don’t think he’s worth the bucks that Boras is going to demand. He has a tendency to fail during clutch time (see 2011 NLCS) and I have this lingering notion that once he signs for big money his production is going to mysteriously disappear, a ‘la Haynesworth.

    The Brewers had to decide between him and Braun and most fans still feel that the front office made the right decision (even with the suspension looming).

    If he goes to the Nats, there will be a lot of happy people in Milwaukee though since that means he won’t be going to the Cubs.

  6. D.Fox

    January 19, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    We’re not signing an old man…
    Health, fitness, and nutrition have come a long way since Cecil Fielder days. His father did not have quite the dramatic drop off claimed here. He over 25 home runs for 8 consecutive seasons and 26 homers at 32. Granted, he only hit 17 the following year.

    Prince is also a much better batter than his father. Cecil led the league in strike outs once and never had a season with 100 walks. Prince has three already (the last three seasons) suggesting he’s becoming a better batter as well.

    We have a chance to sign a young dynamic player in his prime. 5 or 7 years…Who Cares?

  7. SchoenfeldsDonut

    January 19, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    If the deal is right and the “market really has come to the Nats,” you just gotta do it.

    Also, this is a knit, but doesn’t JZ have to be your opening day starter instead of SS based on last season and stringing out SS starts on limited innings?

  8. ThisGuy

    January 19, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    This is baseball, where teams are precisely the sum of their parts, and there is no cap room. So long as the owners are willing to shell out big bucks and risk losing profits, you absolutely buy as many elite players as you can. It’s the Snyder Strategy, and it works in baseball.

    The only downside is that a few years later you have some roster players making more money than they’re worth. But so what? There are ways to deal with that “problem” (like, don’t play them, or trade and eat salary, or buy them out).

    The upside is you have a Murderer’s Row lineup to match with a potnetially potent pitching rotation for several years.

    It’s a no-brainer for me. Sign him.

  9. @mathewbrown

    January 19, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    I think they should sign him if it’s a 5 or 6 year deal. Give me the MVP candidate and you can stuff your flexibility in a sack.

  10. @mathewbrown

    January 19, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    @ comment 7:

    You are correct, but for the wrong reason. Strasburg puts asses in seats whenever he pitches. No need to waste that ticket bump on opening day.

  11. Not Werth it

    January 19, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    I totally agree with comment number 8. I never understand why fans take the position that a certain player will be too much money or that ‘we’ will regret making a free agent acquisition later. Especially now that ‘the plan’ is finally coming together and the Nats have a chance to compete, who cares?

    Fielder? Hell, I wanted us to get Pujols. And Jose Reyes. AND C.J. Wilson. I’m a fan who wants to see my team win now, I don’t have to be rational.

  12. Section 222

    January 19, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    The commenters here are a lot smarter than the so-called experts quoted in the post. Let me pose a question to Andy Peden who is “adamantly opposed” to signing Prince for more than six years. Why? If the Nats are in the playoffs for the first six years with him, but not for the seventh year would you still be opposed? If we win four World Series? How about three? How about two? This focus on the number of years seems very misguided. The issue is what Prince brings to the team and for how long. How many times do you think we’ll make the playoffs in the near term with him? How many without him? I assume that the people who say, “I’m for it, but only for five years or only for six years” think that Prince will only be a good hitter for that length of time. And maybe they are right. But would they really forgo the very strong possibility that me makes us a serious contender for the next five years, not just for the playoffs but for the World Series, becuase we might have to pay him more than he’s worth in year 7 or 8?

    Smart moves and good drafts have put us in the position to win pennants in the near term. The Lerners need to open their checkbooks to make that happen.

  13. Jamie Mottram

    January 19, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    No one called us experts. You’re right, though; these comments are great. Keep ’em coming.

  14. ThisGuy

    January 19, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    Re: the inevitable potential “positional jam” between Morse, Fielder and an aged Zim: I call bullshit because a) no guarantees these players are all healthy and productive and b) even if they are, you’ve got valuable assets to trade.

    Remember: Morse is still unproven, and injuries happen. Come mid-July it will be a luxury to have “too many” sluggers.

    If in the unlikely event everyone is productive, healthy, AND Zim has to play 1B, no downside in having tradeable assets.

  15. TJL

    January 19, 2012 at 9:58 PM

    Donut, barring something unexpected in ST, JZ should definatly be ODS. To me, its not just stras’ innings, JZ has earned it

    As for prince, I’m not going to that worked up either way. Offense was the major weakspot but depite what many say, the advanced defensive statistics are very cruel to prince. The balance may swing more toward O with him on the team but defense at 1B and the outfield will suffer for it. Btw, there’s no way that harper plays CF with werth in a corner.

    Awesome part is, with darvish signing there might not be any real competition for fielder, nationals included. The team might do better with him but they’re far far away from needing him to be successful. Boras has zero leverage

  16. Puttz

    January 19, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    Section 222, based on your logic which assumes playoff berths and rings in the next six years, why not sign him today for 10 years for $300 million? We could jack the payroll up to match the Yankees!! You don’t think playing Werth and Fielder (not to mention expensive extensions for Zim and Stras) upwards of $45-50 million combined in 2017-2018 would cause problems? All is fine if they make the playoffs every year but otherwise you are the fucking Mets!

  17. @mathewbrown

    January 19, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    Paying for value is ok as long as you’re paying for future value, not just rewarding them for what they’ve done in the past. Because then you’re the Orioles.

  18. Baseb

    January 19, 2012 at 11:08 PM

    Hats off to the comment section for knowing baseball better than those discussing it in the article.

    You pay Prince now, reap the benefits and figure out the future when the time comes.

    You DON’T move Zimm off 3B, you move Rendon to 2B and Espinosa to SS.

    All this ‘what if it ends badly’ crap has permeated this organization and fan base for too long. Time to push all the chips to the middle of the table, because the window is now open… and if you miss it, there may not be another chance.

  19. Puttz

    January 20, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    The window isn’t 2012, its 2013 and beyond. This team has a chance to be good for a long time with Stras, JZ, Gio, Espinosa, Harper, Rendon, Storen and Ramos. Not to mention some of the other over 25 guys like Zim. I don’t think the window is limited to 4 or 5 years and you have to think even longer term to be a consistant winner. I would push for Prince if I thought he was the guy to put them over the top.

    2012 is about pushing for 90 wins, seeing if Stras can get through 160 IP, seeing if JZ, Espinosa and Ramos continue to get better, seeing what Rendon does in the minors and seeing what Harper does when he gets to the majors. I think after 2012 the Nats might be in a position that they need one piece to put them over the top. I don’t think Prince is that today and don’t think he will be that piece in a year.

    With that said, if he’s signed, I’ll be happy becuase it will be an exciting 2012 and beyond. You can find me at the Red Loft.

  20. Paul Vallimarescu

    January 20, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    Look, bottom line is I’m a fan. Bottom line is we are ALL fans. F-A-N-S. Nothing less, nothing more. We should not be focused on the logistics. Lets have some damn fun. We all deserve to hop on the fun train and just enjoy awesome baseball. Prince Fielder needs to be a National because Washington DC deserves some good ol’ fashion fun. Did i mention the word fun? Because that is what Prince is, and would he would bring to the table. If we sign him for 8-10 years, it would bring the fun back. All the drama, the big hits, his decline as he ages and gets fatter. It all adds up to fun. And as fans, that’s what we need, that’s what we truly want, and that’s what we deserve. SIGN PRINCE AKA THE FUN TRAIN.

  21. Jon Forrester

    January 20, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    I’m not as scared that he will decline that rapidly, but he obviously can only go downhill games wise.

    He has averaged 159.83 games per season, not counting his first 39 games (call ups). 2006: 157 games, 2007: 158 games, 2008: 159 games, 2009: 162 games, 2010: 161 games, 2011: 162 games

    Mo Vaughn averaged 125 games in his first six years. Mark McGwire averaged 149.66 games in his first six years. Baseball Reference has him most similar through age 27 as…

    Eddie Murray (Hall of Fame)
    Juan Gonzalez (2x AL MVP)
    Jose Canseco (MVP)
    Mark Teixeira
    Greg Luzinski
    Darrly Strawberry
    Kent Hrbek
    Boog Powell (MVP)
    Jim Rice (Hall of Fame, MVP)
    Orlando Cepeda (Hall of Fame, MVP)

    I think you need to pull the trigger on this deal, but you need to not go long on years. I am not sure he will make the Hall of Fame, but odds are he will get an MVP in the next 7 years. The Nats have been extremely cheap in their first few years, yet are one of the highest in revenue generated over that period. I think you can afford to overpay him since you were cheap for so long. Pay more up front to compensate maybe.

  22. Walter Johnson

    January 20, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    I want Prince on the Nats in a bad way. With Prince in the middle of the lineup I truly believe they will be the best team in the NL East. The Nats will be competetive in 2012 without him, but he will put them in an elite class.

    @Baseb- “You DON’T move Zimm off 3B, you move Rendon to 2B and Espinosa to SS.”

    That’s a little off topic but I completely agree. I can’t stand Desmond. His physical AND mental errors are maddening. At least he stole some bases last year though.

    Sign Prince!

  23. dc202allday

    January 20, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    At first I was married to the 6 yrs or less idea of signing the Prince…I think though 7 years will get the deal done as other teams probably wont go over 6. The Nats are still going to have to overpay for FA’s until they show they are consistent contenders. I think after the Prince deal they wont have to be the little brother when it comes to FA destinations. 7 years is the max years I would go and if they want to give him 22 mil per year then thats the highest I would go. Anything other than that is stupidity.

  24. Puttz

    January 20, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    I completely agree on Zim at 3B cause hiss value is off the charts at 3B. You don’t move Zim to 1B to make room for Rendon. But, you might have to move Zim at some point becuase his bat is too valuable and he hasn’t proven he can stay healthy while playing 3B. I love the idea of Zim at 3B, Espinosa at SS and Rendon at 2B. Maybe Desi will surprise us this year but I’m expecting the switch to be made by 2013. Hopefully by the start of 2013 the leadoff/CF issue is solved too.

  25. Alex B in DC

    January 20, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    I think you have to sign him for 6 possibly 7 years at most. I think we can get him for around $22M to $24M a year.

    The reason why you do this is to put butts in the seats for next year and many years to come. You will imediately see a huge bump in ticket sales as the Nats will be contenders for years to come and the hot new thing here in DC. And we all do know how much of a bandwagon town DC is.

    The reason you can do this NOW is because of the MASN deal which is up for re-negotiations right now. Not only will you be getting more money each season, this signing will make that number even bigger. The bump each season will be more than enough to cover the added cost.

    As far as the players, good assets can always be traded or moved to logical better positions, including Fielder. This is why Boras wants a clause to renegotiate put in after a few years (like CC did), so the Nats should have an option in their as well.

    Let Rizzo do his job, and trust (as I do) that he will do it well.

  26. olenatsfan

    January 20, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    Sorry folks I would give Prince only 50 mil for 3 years. If he wants more tell him to ask Werth for it. There are consequences to big contracts and with Werth we should have learned our lesson.
    However what I would prefer is for us to hold on to our money because teams that bankrupt themselves by signing FAs at these rates will be having to let a lot of players go, there will be a glut of great FAs in a one or two years, and the prices will be very affordable by comparison.

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