Sunday, June 1, 2008

Time to Look at Dealing the Prince?

This might not be a popular post with many Brewers fans. Especially after Prince has finally started to break out of his power funk.

However, I think it is an issue worth raising...

Should the Brewers be exploring their options in preparation for a possible trade of Prince Fielder?

I'm not saying trade him right now - but after next season? Maybe. At next year's trade deadline? Maybe. I think you have to judge to see when his value is at its absolute highest, and then seriously think about pulling the trigger on a trade.

I know that the Brewers control his rights for three more seasons after this year. I know that, in the baseball world that we've been living in, it would be extremely unusual to trade a player of Prince's caliber before his final arbitration year. But as we have seen with the spate of long-term deals handed out to young ballplayers this season (the "sea change" in baseball, as Attanasio put it) things are changing in baseball. The Rockies are rumored to be exploring trading Matt Holliday (another Boras client, by the way) even though he isn't a free agent until after the 2009 season.

Arguments for trading Prince before his final arbitration season?

1. Trading Prince at the trade deadline prior to his free agent year would seem to limit the Brewers trade partners. At that point, the teams who would look at Prince would have to fit within fairly narrow criteria - (a) a team that needs a player to play 1B or DH, (b) a team that is either in, or within shouting distance of, first place, such that trading for a guy like Prince would make sense for their club, and (c) a team that is willing to risk "renting" Prince for a few months until he hits free agency. If you trade Prince when the team still controls him for a few years, this would open up trading partners who wouldn't typically go after a guy like Prince in his contract year. (I'm thinking smaller market teams who think they're a 1B away from taking a shot at the playoffs for the next year or two). As we saw with the Carlos Lee deal, you're not going to get top value for your star player when he's in his walk year. Which leads me to...

2. Trading Prince at the trade deadline prior to his free agent year would seem to limit the compensation that the Brewers would get in return. Prince is much more valuable to a team if they know that they control him for another year or two after making the deal. Therefore, teams would theoretically be much more likely to give up more in order to get Prince - including more prospects who are closer to the majors.

3. The Brewers have organizational depth at first base, and could fill holes in other areas (see: starting pitching) by trading Prince. The Brewers have both Matt LaPorta and Mat Gamel mashing in the minor leagues right now. LaPorta was a 1B in college; Gamel plays 3B rather poorly for Huntsville right now. Either one would likely be able to handle 1B - Gamel's fielding problems are mostly related to the accuracy of his throwing arm, which clearly isn't an issue at 1B. It is true that LaPorta is another righthanded bat (Gamel is a lefty) which could be a bit of a problem, since Prince is currently the only lefty regular in the Brewers lineup. Now am I saying that either one of these guys is going to hit 50 home runs? No. But to me, the Brewers don't need to replace all of Prince's offensive numbers - if they could get some quality starting pitching back for him and/or a stopper for the bullpen, that would more than make up for any drop in offensive production at the 1B spot in my mind. Coming in to this season, only 10 of the Brewers' top 30 prospects (according to Baseball America) are pitchers, and one of those 10 (Manny Parra) is already pitching for Milwaukee in the bigs. And the only pitcher other than Parra in the top 10 has a drug problem. With Ben Sheets' impending free agency, they need pitching.

4. I think we all agree that the Brewers have not shot at retaining Fielder once he hits free agency. If I thought there was a chance to lock up Prince for a Braun-type deal, I'd never suggest this. But I think it's pretty clear that as long as Scott Boras is Prince's agent, that isn't going to happen.

What do people think? I know Woz thinks this is crazy to suggest, but I think it might just be crazy enough to work for the Brewers long term...although I'm no GM. Don't forget, even though Prince is only arbitration eligible starting next year, he's going to be pulling down at least $10 million next year thanks to Ryan Howard's arbitration win prior to this year.


Anonymous said...

Us Brewer fans just can't be happy.

We sweep the Astros in a very convincing fashion, but all we get is how we could very well lose out on Prince Fielder's value..

Anonymous said...

Eh, just trade him either at the deadline next year or in the offseason. No big deal. His numbers this year won't come close to last year's so we can easily afford him next year. With his attitude and lack of production (when it matters) this year, most fans won't be too sad to see him go. Give his $ to Hart and get him locked up.

Anonymous said...

Trade him. He's the definition of a DH....if he's a lard ass at age 25, what's he gonna look like at 31?

LaPorta can hit homers, play bad defense, and look pissed off almost as good as Prince can.

Doug Melvin said...


Goldy said...

Matt brings up some good points. Anonymous commenter #2, not so much.

AP said...

I'm on board, so long as you absolutely plunder some other team for a ton of young pitching depth.

I've been Cobra'd said...

Doug has moved brewer marque names before inorder torevamp a line-up I think do it and revamp out rotation.