Although they managed to stay under the radar all the while, the Los Angeles Dodgers pushed hard for weeks to try to sign Prince Fielder and thought for a while they might have a legitimate shot at their own secret signing. The Dodgers were a surprise entrant in the sweepstakes, making a major push to sign the star slugger with an offer that guaranteed him seven years but provided a sweet four-year opt-out. And for a couple weeks, they looked like a real possibility for Prince.
The Dodgers surely gave a spirited effort to secure Fielder, even flying to meet with him at an undisclosed neutral location a few weeks ago, but somehow managed to keep the entire undertaking under wraps, save for a few internet rumblings from fans speculating that they may have been a mystery team in the mix.
Heyman goes on to state that the Dodger offer was nowhere near the massive nine-year, $214m commitment Fielder just procured from Detroit, figures I wanted no part of. Rather, the supposed Dodger offer would have been “in the low $160m” range, with the first three years coming in at $26m apiece ($78m total), after which Fielder would have been able to opt out, then four years in the low twenties range, totaling about $85-90m and bringing the deal into the $160m range. About a month ago, I heard from a source who claimed that Ned Colletti had offered Fielder a 3/$80m deal, and while I couldn’t confirm it enough to run with it, that it pretty close to the first half of this supposed offer.
If that’s in any way true, well, I like that idea a lot. Sure, paying Fielder $26m a year is somewhat outrageous, but that’s only over his age 28-30 seasons, after which he’s either someone else’s problem or taking a pay cut. That’s also, of course, almost certainly why a deal like this had almost no chance of happening, considering how much more he eventually ended up getting from Detroit; the Dodgers were likely extending themselves just to get that far, hoping that the market would never materialize and Fielder would have no choice but to land with them. (There’s a conversation happening on Twitter right now about whether Victor Martinez‘ injury cost the Dodgers Fielder, since they may not have been in on Prince until they were short a bat; it makes sense, though I’m not sure if I fully buy that simply due to how much they did end up giving to Fielder.)
But that’s all behind us now, because Fielder is a Tiger now, and we won’t be seeing him in Dodger blue until he’s inevitably signed to a back-loaded contract in 2022. If anything, we can be impressed with the Dodger front office for not allowing anything more than unsourced speculation to leak during this process. Of course, the best part of Heyman’s story has nothing to do with Fielder, and the emphasis on this is mine:
The Dodgers tendered their longtime first baseman James Loney a contract and expect him to be their first baseman. They are not unhappy with him at all but merely saw Fielder as a rare opportunity to land one of the game’s best hitters.