If you have been hanging around these parts for a while, you know that the model for this site is to tell you what the Rays have done, what they are doing and try to project what they will do based on what we have learned. Think of RI as “Tampa Bay Rays 101.”

However, for the next 12 days we will step away from the standard, and we present to you 12 “presents” the Tampa Bay Rays should give to their fans. Looking back at last year’s 12 Days of Raysmas, we see that many of our wishes came true. Many did not. If we can get a couple of more this year, the Rays might just win it all.

Without further ado…

On the third day of Raysmas, the Tampa Bay Rays gave to us, A THREE-YEAR CONTRACT FOR PRINCE FIELDER…

Prince Fielder is the best bat still on the free agent market. But while the slugger entered the off-season looking for a $200 million contract, interest in Fielder has been luke-warm at best. And that interest is only coming from a handful of teams that had losing records in 2011.

As a result, some now believe Fielder is willing to accept a 3-year, ~$78 million contract. That would give Fielder a higher average annual salary than Albert Pujols. Also, Fielder would become a free agent again at age 30.

If Fielder is willing to accept a 3-year deal, there is no reason why the Rays shouldn’t try to sign him.

The Rays can trade James Shields and sign Fielder at $25-26 million per season, and the 2012 payroll would still only be ~$70 million, which is about what it was in 2010. And all of a sudden, the Rays go from a playoff contender, to one of 3-4 World Series favorites.

The danger in signing a guy like Fielder is years 5-10 on a 10-year deal. There is very little risk in the first 3-4 years. According to Fangraphs.com, Fielder was a 5.5 WAR player last year, worth $24.6 million. And at age 28 (in 2012), Fielder’s best years might still be ahead of him.

Now, before you guys get too excited, there are some downsides to this.We are talking about the Rays investing more than one-third of their payroll in one player. While the chances of something bad happening to a lumbering slugger are slim, it is possible. And if Fielder goes down, that is a lot of money tied up in dead weight (pun intended).

Also, we don’t know if Fielder is willing to accept a three-year deal. This is just speculation on the part of “several GMs.” But it does make sense. And, if it is true, and if the Rays are indeed in play, so are a lot of other teams. And if other teams are suddenly involved, the price goes up. Maybe not in terms of annual salary, but maybe a team offers a fourth year. And the longer the contract, the less likely the Rays will want to make the commitment.

Hey, this is probably not going to happen. The Rays blueprint has been successful, and it specifically says to not spend a lot of money for home runs (there is very little “value” in buying home runs). But if Fielder is willing to accept a 3-year deal, and if the Rays can afford a $70 million payroll, there is no reason why the Rays shouldn’t at least make a phone call to Scott Boras.

 
 

14 Comments

  1. Joe says:

    Can we trade Upton instead? Same salary, for this year anyway and we can figure out next year when it’s next year. And imagine the epic rotation and Longoria – Fielder at the 3-4 slots.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Absolutely. I only suggested Shields because that is a position with greater depth. I think there is a bigger drop-off from Upton to Guyer, than there is from Shields to Cobb, Niemann, or Davis.

      • Joe says:

        Upton in a contract year so you might be right and thanks for the Fielder thread. At least we can have our pipe dreams until he signs elsewhere.

      • Tom says:

        Cork,

        Why do you think the drop off from Upton to Guyer is larger than the drop off from Shields to Davis/Niemann/Cobb?

        • Cork Gaines says:

          well, I’m not a big believer in Guyer. I think there are some holes in his swing. I dont think he is as good as Matt Joyce, and Joyce has yet to prove he can be a consistent everyday player. And Joyce is (much?) better defensively. In a Joe Maddon lineup, Guyer is probably a platoon outfielder, starting only against lefties. As for the pitchers, I think all three of those guys are interchangeable. Nothing great, but consistently good. And some think Cobb has the changeup to be even better than the other two (I’m not convinced yet, but maybe).

          • Tom says:

            Thanks for the input on Guyer’s swing, I have not seen him enough to form an opinion on his swing. He sure did rake in the minors though.

  2. Sam says:

    CASEY KOTCHMAN! *clap. clap. clap-clap-clap* CASEY KOTCHMAN!

    They need to sign Kotch! An improving hitter, with great defensive skills. Pick up one more solid outfielder and we’re golden!

  3. Rg8r says:

    If it’s a bat we’re talking about, and it is, the Rays won’t pull the trigger. That is all!

  4. Joe says:

    Shocking

    Updating a previous item, Prince Fielder’s agent Scott Boras told Bruce Levine that his client will not consider a three-year deal worth $26 million per season.

  5. Brian says:

    Cork – thanks for the Mons Venus style tease job. Kotch @ 1st and Prince as the DH would be the ultimate. Would Heavy D agree to that?

    • Sublime says:

      Wow, you’re going to relate him to a guy that just died, Brian Brian Brian.

      If we stumbled into getting Prince Fielder, Kotch can kick rocks! I think we all can agree, NL players need to play everyday, not DH.

  6. RedBull says:

    While the pipe dream is fun to think about, I put this opportunity at about a 2% chance of actually coming to fruition. Although, I’m curious why the Rays wouldn’t go for a 5 year deal for Fielder? If it’s years 5-10 that are worrisome, then it seems to me that Stu and Andrew are the types of guys that take that risk for the 5th year. If they were to make this deal happen, I could see them doing 4 years/$104 with a 5th year option for $26 mill, to bring it to 5/$130 mill. I don’t think it’s even remotely close to ever coming true because of the stadium situation, but if Stu wants a ring that bad, he should definitely sign Fielder. And while I understand your argument of not paying for HR, think about how many RBI he has…that’s what you pay for-production! You don’t pay him big bucks because he’s a .240 hitter with 28 HR & 75 RBI…you pay him to hit .280 with 35 HR & 120 RBI! His overall production as a hitter is what sets Fielder apart from everyone! Geez, now you’ve got me excited..make it happen Stu!

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Sure, you could go to 4 or 5 years. The risk in years 6-10 is that he is no longer worth the money. In years 1-3 he will absolutely be worth the money. In years 3 and 4, it could go either way. And this is all just guessing on my part. But that is the trend a lot of players show on these long-term deals in their 30s. But in essence, the risk starts small, and gets bigger. At some point, the risk outweighs the reward for a team like the Rays. I think it is around year 4. But maybe you could stretch it another year, sure.

    • Washington Irving says:

      “While the pipe dream is fun to think about, I put this opportunity at about a 2% chance of actually coming to fruition.”

      Sounds like you’re saying that Fatso could be the extra 2%.

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