January 26, 2012
Tigers go public with Fielder deal
By SPORTS NETWORK
The Detroit Tigers and Prince Fielder have put the finishing touches on a nine-year contract.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but multiple reports earlier this week indicated the pact for the former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman to be worth $214 million.
"Prince Fielder is one of the premier offensive players in the game of baseball and we are extremely excited to add an All-Star-caliber player like him to our lineup," said Tigers president, CEO and general manager Dave Dombrowski in a statement. "The addition of Prince is a testament to the organization's continued commitment to fielding a championship club."
The Tigers are coming off an American League Central title from 2011, their first division crown in 24 years, and lured one of the biggest available free agents to Detroit. He is familiar with the city, as his father, Cecil, played for the Tigers from 1990-96.
"It's awesome, I really don't know what to say," Fielder said at a Thursday news conference about returning to Detroit. "I never thought this could happen. It's real special day. I'm looking forward to coming back to where I grew up. There's a lot of good memories."
In 998 big league games, all with the Brewers, the 27-year-old Fielder has clubbed 230 homers and driven in 656 runs. He finished third in the voting for the National League Most Valuable Player last year after batting .299 with 38 homers and 120 RBI.
A three-time All-Star and career .282 hitter, Fielder has missed just one game in the past three seasons.
The Tigers were trying to add another quality bat after Victor Martinez went down with a torn knee ligament that could cost him the entire 2012 season.
That, said Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, was the spark that led to the pursuit of Fielder.
"We sat down and [talked about] how we're going to handle this," Ilitch said Thursday. "I always wanted Prince, because we just missed him in the draft. Milwaukee beat us by one. I went to Dave [Dombrowski] and said I think we should go after Prince."
The Brewers selected Fielder with the seventh overall pick of the 2002 draft, just ahead of Detroit. The Tigers followed by taking infielder Scott Moore, who never played for Detroit and appeared in 80 games over parts of four seasons with the Cubs and Orioles.
This time around Detroit did not need a first baseman with Miguel Cabrera already there. The AL's batting champion from a year ago will make the switch to third base, a position he played with the Marlins, to accommodate the new acquisition.
"Miguel Cabrera's going to play third base, I'll make that clear today," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland at Thursday's news conference. "I feel very comfortable with it. We're going back to old-fashioned baseball, with power on the corners."
Cabrera and Fielder combined for 68 homers last season.
"He's 100% on board," Leyland said, noting that he has already spoken to Cabrera about the switch. "He feels good about it."
Cabrera last played third base in 2008 with Detroit, the year he began to make the transition to first. He was primarily a third baseman with the Marlins in 2006 and 2007.