It is never too early to start to speculate about the upcoming MLB free agent season. Having said that, let’s begin by taking a look at first base and how the Orioles might have a perfect storm of an incredible opportunity.
The philosophy coming from Camden Yards is “Buy the Bats, Grow the Arms”. I love that plan, every time it’s implemented. The growing of the arms is always a work in progress and I like what I have seen. Lots of the major league roster has home grown talent and the farm system has some good prospects in the lower levels. It’s not a fabulous systems stacked with great arms, but it is a decent farm system that has provided some major league talent and looks like there continues to be a strong attempt to grow the arms. Fine, I will give them a B to B+ and be happy with that.
Buying the Bats is almost an F. The one year contract to Vladimer keeps the Orioles at a D- grade. This buying the bats has gone horribly bad with no end in sight. Wait, I see an end and I like it. You see, it really just takes one massive free agent bat signing to go in the middle of the lineup to change the entire make up of not just the lineup, but the entire organization. I have hope, with a lot of data.
I need the Orioles to aggressively go after and sign Prince Fielder to play first base for the next 8 years. This will take an 8 year, roughly 180 million dollar offer to get it done. (For speculating purposes, these numbers are Mark Teixeira numbers, exactly)
Typically the Orioles will offer low and then hope to get a call back. That hasn’t works since Albert Belle and Miguel Tejada. We need a new plan.
The Orioles need to be aggressive and sign first base Free Agent Prince Fielder. There are two reasons why this is smart, one is he is a very good player and young, he will be 28 years old next year, on the free agent market. The second is a strange confluence of contracts and needs at first base makes for a unique opportunity for the Orioles. Let me explain.
Typically the Yankees or Red Sox will bid for the highest priced free agents. After them, there are several other teams that will typically be higher bidders for free agents. This will NOT be the case this time. A quick rundown will explain what I’m talking about.
The Yankees have Mark Teixeira at first base for 8 years and $180 million dollars, contract ending in 2016.
The Red Sox have Adrian Gonzalez at first base for 7 years and $154 million dollars, contract ending in 2018.
The Phillies have Ryan Howard at first base for 5 years and $125 million dollars, contract ending in 2016.
The White Sox have Adam Dunn at first base for 4 years and $56 million dollars, contract ending in 2014.
The White Sox have Paul Konerko at first base for 3 years and $37.5 million dollars, contract ending in 2013.
The Dodgers and the Mets are in financial DISASTER. The Dodgers might be meeting payroll this year and the Mets have several of their own players they would rather sign.
For this purpose, let’s assume the Cardinals re-sign Albert Pujols.
Next up is the Cubs. They are an organization that is worse off than the Orioles. There is a constant state of mutiny with the Cubs but an obvious hole at first base. I think the Orioles can be more competitive in the Prince Fielder free agent signing market than the Cubs.
The Angels have one of the games best young first base prospects in Mark Trumbo and a couple of aging contracts with some outfielders. The Angels may get into the Prince Fielder bidding, but I think the Orioles can beat them.
Then you have the Nationals. They have the money and the need. I see the Nationals being a major player in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes. Can’t I hope that the Orioles can spend more MASN money than the Nationals, for ONCE.
The best opportunity in the next several years to “Sign a Bat” is this off-season. The Orioles have to make this deal happen