Well, it’s official; Albert Pujols’ name has been taken off the market. Pujols signed with the Los Angeles Angels, and was introduced last Saturday. That means that one of the two biggest names on the market has found a home, for 10 years.
Along with Pujols in the free agent pool is Prince Fielder. The question now is where will Fielder go. Will he stay in the National League? Join his former NL Central rival in the American League? Or even go to the same division as Pujols?
That’s right, Fielder might join Pujols in the AL West. The AL West is a division that lacks offense. Except for the Rangers, the teams in the West were at the bottom of run support for their pitchers. That means that the teams out in the not-so-wild-West will be looking to sign some major run producing machines, like Pujols and Fielder. With the new acquisition of Pujols, the Angels aren’t looking for another home run king. The team that is looking for one is the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners were dead last in runs scored last season, so I would say they need some help. Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik, has a prior relationship with Prince Fielder. Before coming to Seattle, Zduriencik was with the Milwaukee Brewer organization and was the man who actually drafted Fielder in 2002. Fielder and Jackie Z got to know each other on and off the field over the years, until Zduriencik left for Seattle before the 2009 season.
The question is if Fielder and his agent Scott Boras can come to some agreement with the Mariners regarding how many zeroes will be on the contract given to Fielder. The M’s are in great need of some power in the middle of their lineup. Their pitchers have lacked consistent offensive support since Edgar Martinez was still playing. Will the Mariners be able to get a deal done with Fielder? I hope so. Safeco Field in Seattle is built perfectly for Fielder, who can play home run derby every night. When there’s a list of potential teams who have made offers for Fielder, I think the Mariners will be on it.
There is another underdog team who could end up getting Fielder as well, the Miami Marlins. Along with their new stadium, manager, logo, and name, the Marlins are also searching for a new look to their roster. The Marlins have already made a big splash this year by signing shortstop Jose Reyes, starting pitcher Mark Buehrle, and closer Heath Bell. Bell and Buehrle bring a veteran presence to the pitching staff; Reyes brings speed and sparkling defense to the squad. The Marlins regular starting shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, has agreed to shift over to third base to make room for Reyes on the left side of the infield. The Marlins were negotiating to get Pujols, offering him multiple long-term deals before stepping out of the race. But the Marlins are still seeking a big bat, and with a question at first base, Fielder could be the one to fill that spot.
Along with the likes of Bell, Pujols, and Fielder, there are other big players on the market such as Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Beltran, and Ryan Ludwick, to name a few. I’m not going predict where I think these players are going to go, because most likely I’ll be wrong. Except for Rollins. J-Roll will probably resign with the Phillies. Before I finish I just want to talk about the NL Central. Without Pujols leading the way in St. Louis, I truly feel that the teams are very close to even. St. Louis will be looking to get a first basemen to replace Pujols. The Chicago Cubs will be trying everything they have yet to try to gather a team together that might be able to get to the playoffs. The Cubs aren’t off to a great start though, losing star third basemen Aramis Ramirez to NL Central foe Milwaukee Brewers. The Pirates will also be looking to sign some sort of power hitter, and another starting pitcher to back up Andrew McCutchen and crew. Speaking of the Crew, the Brew Crew will be looking to find a replacement for Fielder if he does not return.
This time of year is exciting for baseball. A lot of moves will be made. One thing is for sure: question marks and exclamation points will surround most.