Apparently, Prince Fielder’s leverage was just fine. He signed a huge contract with an unexpected suitor, but I don’t necessarily agree with critics who are calling the deal “absurd” on the part of the Tigers. It is scary-long, but the average annual value of $23.8 million over nine years seems to make sense for both sides. Simply calculating the current cost of a win above replacement ignores a critical and essential factor – salary inflation.
To assume that player salaries aren’t going to head upwards over the next nine years is, well, absurd. It’s very possible that the Rangers and Angels were only the first two teams of potentially many that could kick off an era of TV deal renegotiation mania. The A’s and Rays could join the Marlins in moving from the payroll cellar to middle of the pack by opening a new stadiums. The economy is improving.
Don’t get me wrong, Fielder’s performance should diminish over the course of the deal. But if I had to make a bet, I would predict that Fielder’s output will be more constant than player salaries over the course of nine years.
As for the Rangers, it’s time to move on. Owner Bob Simpson’s recent comments that he would rather have Josh Hamilton than Fielder now seem more supportive than questionable. The hole at first base seems larger than it is in reality now that the position has been vacated by the dream of Fielder. With this in mind, I’ll try not to obsess about it. But man, if only.