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Brewers, Fielder Reach Two-Year Deal

Hard to report more optimistic news after a crusher like Dave's last post, but news breaks when news breaks. In this case, news consists of a deal between Prince Fielder and the Milwaukee Brewers, with the two sides coming to an agreement for two-years and $18 million. The contract details were broken by Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

The deal not only signs Fielder for the forthcoming season, it also eats up another of his arbitration eligible seasons. He'll have one of those remaining after this deal -- 2011 -- after which he'll be an unrestricted free agent. It's also an interesting agreement because of the terms of the deal: Fielder was asking for $8 million in arbitration this year, so the Brewers clearly think he's going to put up a monster year, otherwise they would be worried about eating any more than the one year of arbitration eligibility.

Fielder's new contract won't become official until he passes a physical, which is probably an afterthought so long as the physical doesn't include a weight clause.

The bigger question, of course, is whether Fielder's deal sets any kind of a precedent going forward. It's the second two-year deal reached by a young NL slugger (obviously, thanks noahthek) outfielder in two days, and just as with Jayson Werth's two-year deal with the Phillies, both got significantly more than a two-year deal at the rate they were asking for in arbitration for a one-year deal. That may seem like a natural conclusion, but it still requires a leap of faith for both the Phillies and Brewers.

Anyone think it's a risky move? Or is locking up both Fielder and Werth going to be a brilliant move by the end of 2010?

By Cameron Smith  |  January 22, 2009; 5:05 PM ET
Categories:  Brewers  
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Next: Is Ryan Howard Worth $18 Million?


Prince Fielder plays first-base. He's not an outfielder by any stretch of the imagination.

Fielder still has tremendous upside and the two year deal may help facilitate a trade with an AL team next year.

Posted by: noahthek | January 22, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I think the Brewers probably saw what Ryan Howard is doing in arbitration to the Phillies and figured Fielder would be going that route salary-wise as well. Last year Howard got $10 million in arbitration. If Fielder wins his case this year (which isn't exactly that much of a stretch) and only asks for a two million dollar raise next year (in which he's likely to ask for me, again see Ryan Howard), then the Brewers have scored a draw. If he wins this year and they go to arbitration next year they stand to lose money.

I don't think it's much of a leap of faith Cameron, they know that at $9 million a year average for the production he puts up (which is actually likely to get better), they have a "bargain".

I think the Phillies made a much riskier move because I, personally, am not solid on Jayson Werth. But a) it's "only" 5 million which isn't a ton these days and b) the Phillies can afford a few mistakes and still be big time contenders.

Posted by: adampschroeder | January 22, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse

"Fielder . . . a monster . . . worried about eating any more " Secret encrypted message from Cameron. He was the hamburger and CC was the chili dog, right?

I really don't know if this holds up, but I've mentioned the quick and dirty formula that Eric Seidman and others on Fangraphs uses to estimate arbitration time frame contracts. Basically, these contracts discount the free agent value of a player based on the year of arbtiration. First year players tend to get 40% of the value their performance projection would be worth to a free agent, second 60%, final 80%. So a 20% bump would not be that unusual. Here, it looks like a 25% bump ($8m -> $10m), so that is nothing really strange. Having said that, it shows they value Fielder at about $16.7 - $20 million as a free agent. That works out to about 4 to 5 wins above average, again using the Fangraphs formulas. Four wins is roughly halfway between his 2007 and 2008 performance. While several projections have this as a bounce back year, has anyone seen one that has him more than halfway back to his 2007 numbers?

The 2009 number actually looks a little high (maybe $1.3m), while 2010 looks right for 4 wins. But I suppose they are a bit scared of Howard's award from last year.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 23, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 23, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

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