Chicago Cubs' Geovany Soto, right, tags out Milwaukee Brewers' Prince Fielder at home playe in the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, July 28, 2011, in Milwaukee.. Fielder tried to score from first on a double by Yuniesky Betancourt. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Recently, the Detroit Tigers learned they would be without designated hitter Victor Martinez for the entire 2012 season. That undoubtedly sent a little wave of panic through the Tigers' front office.
And that showed on Tuesday when word came down that the Tigers had agreed with free agent slugger Prince Fielder for a 9-year contract worth $214 million.
Count yours truly in as someone who wanted the Texas Rangers to sign Fielder. His addition to any lineup, especially in Rangers Ballpark with the Rangers lineup, would be a nice way to bolster a team.
But nine years for more than $200 million? Totally didn't see that coming.
The Tigers were clearly a little desperate after reaching the ALCS last season before losing to the Rangers in six games. So they went and got the biggest name left on the market. But that kind of money is reserved for Winter Meetings deals in the height of free agency, not the end of January less than a month before spring training starts.
Prince Fielder is 5-11 and weighs in at 275 pounds. But to his credit, he rarely misses games and the 27-year-old is one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball. Joining Fielder and Miguel Cabrera in the heart of the Tigers' lineup will be an awfully formidable 1-2 punch, but they'll still be hitting in the pitching paradise that is Comerica Park.
Ultimately, the Fielder signing does make the Tigers a slightly better team. Essentially it's a swap: Fielder for Martinez. The Tigers' pitching staff is really good, but with the moves the other teams in the American League have made it might not have bumped them up the ladder.
The American League still looks like this in no particular order: Texas, Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees. The Tigers fall in right behind those three and this signing ultimately won't change that.