Blog Entry

Dodgers secretly bid big for Prince

Posted on: January 26, 2012 12:56 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 7:10 pm

Although they managed to stay under the radar all the while, the bankrupt big-market Los Angeles Dodgers pushed hard behind the scenes for weeks to try to sign Prince Fielder and thought for a while that they might have a legitimate shot at their own secret signing. The swashbuckling, secret-keeping Dodgers surely were a surprise entrant in the sweepstakes, making a major push to sign the star slugger with an initial offer that guaranteed him seven years and provided a sweet four-year opt-out. And for a couple weeks, the Dodgers looked like a real possibility for Prince.

The Dodgers surely gave a spirited effort to secure Fielder, even flying to meet with him at an undisclosed neutral location a few weeks ago, but somehow they managed to keep the entire undertaking under wraps, save for a few internet rumblings from fans speculating that they may have been a mystery team in the mix. It certainly is highly unusual for a team in backruptcy court to make a huge, nine-figure offer, but Dodgers people view Fielder as an extraordinary player who would have thrived in their large market.

But as it turned out, the Dodgers were merely the first mystery team. The second one, the Tigers, jumped in to win Fielder on a $214-million, nine-year deal several days after star hitter Victor Martinez suffered a knee injury that's expected to keep him out for the 2012 season. The one entity that was aware of the Dodgers' clandestine pursuit was the Tigers, who believed at some point that their strongest competition was coming from Los Angeles. The Nationals, Rangers and as many as four others also were showing strong interest in the 27-year-old slugger, though L.A. was definitely a prime player and one of the one or two main contenders to decisive Detroit in the end.

The Dodgers' first attempt at Fielder, with a high annual salary on the four years Fielder was guaranteed to be a Dodger and the always favorable player opt out, is believed to have put them among the final three teams in on Fielder, who agreed to the Tigers deal on Tuesday that was first reported by and announced today. The Nationals have said they were in on Fielder until the end, and the Dodgers were calling in the final couple days, too, though they started to lose hope the final weekend when the Tigers' big bid materialized, people familiar with the negotiations told Danny Knobler of Boras said, "I was only dealing with teams offering eight years or more'' by the end. One other interested GM said Boras told them their seven-year offer didn't even qualify for submission.

The Dodgers' first offer was said to have called for an average salary of about $26 million for the first four years and something in the low $20-million-range in the next three years. That bid was designed not to discourage Fielder from opting out and possibly moving to the American League where he could DH afterbeing the Dodgers'; forst baseman for four years. That total Dodgers deal was believed to have been worth a guarantee in the low $160 millions. It isn't known whether it included options or vesting options.

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, who is about to auction the team that's in bankruptcy, is not disallowed by the bankruptcy court from making such major baseball calls even though the team is slated to change hands April 30. The Los Angeles Times reported there are 20 wealthy bidders for the storied franchise that is expected to sell for at least $1.5 billion, and perhaps more. McCourt was fully on board with the offer extended to Fielder.

At least one prospective Dodgers bidder said he had heard about the team's involvement with Fielder but declined to comment on how such a mega contract might affect the purchase price. The expected record price for the Dodgers is being driven in large part by an ultra-competitive TV market, and having a third superstar to go with Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw may have been seen as a positive. The homegrown superstar Kemp was signed to a $160-million, eight-year Dodgers deal earlier this offseason in a move that was applauded by everyone.

The Dodgers have reduced their payroll to $90 million for the coming season, very small for the big-market team -- though for Fielder, who they saw as a special case, they were willing to push the payroll to close to $120 million.

The Dodgers tendered their longtime first baseman James Loney a contract and expect him to be their first baseman. They are not unhappy with him at all but merely saw Fielder as a rare opportunity to land one of the game's best hitters. There has been speculation the new owner, whoever that may be, will be in position to take a shot out at Reds superstar first baseman Joey Votto when he becomes a free agent in two years. However, Dodgers baseball people saw Fielder as an immediate chance at someone they believe is well-suited for a big market environment.

Category: MLB

Since: Nov 18, 2006
Posted on: January 27, 2012 7:21 pm

Dodgers secretly bid big for Prince

Thank God the Dodgers didn't get The fat boy. His days are numbered and like his dad he will break down. He knows this too and that is why he ran the the American League where he can DH. Doesn't really matter to him now though since he has already cashed in.

Since: Aug 26, 2009
Posted on: January 27, 2012 3:18 pm

Dodgers secretly bid big for Prince

I wouldn't want Soriano for anything.  He can't hit.  You can have Loney and keep the change.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: January 27, 2012 1:14 pm

Dodgers secretly bid big for Prince

Just more propaganda from the Selig media minions...

It's ALL about the big market teams...even when it isn't.

Yankees, Redsox, Dodgers, Angels, Mets, Phillies, Cubs, Tigers, etc...are what makes the MLB world go 'round, right ? It's getting tougher to keep the bigger names in the headlines, though. Yu Darvish is redefining the Rangers perspective on big markets and bankrutcy, so why can't the Dodgers and Mets get some love ? 

The Whitesox have already used the "R" (rebuild) word...Theo Epstein too busy building his new "franchise builder" (as opposed to his previous "franchise buyer") image, than actually re-tooling the Cubs. The Yankees and Redsox haven't made noteworthy news recently, even though Popeye's and Budweiser appreciated the Bosox endorsements.

The "next" big thing, the Miami Marlins, have done their part this winter, now all they need is for enough fans to buy into the hype to keep them from dumping their over-budget roster for the 3rd time...Pujols' feet are cemented in Anehiem asphalt until retirement, and Fielder's signed in the emptiest big city in the U.S., so I suppose they'll have to start grinding Joey Votto into Dodgers/Giants/Mets/ Cubs fabrication fodder for the next couple of years, huh ?

Since: Feb 20, 2007
Posted on: January 26, 2012 10:24 pm

Dodgers secretly bid big for Prince

There's a slugger avilable in Chicago - i'm sure Soriano has some great years left - warm weather, perfect fit.  Just give the Cubs, oh I don't about Eithier? Problem solved.  It's like Theo is just giving him away.

Since: Dec 19, 2006
Posted on: January 26, 2012 8:16 pm

Dodgers secretly bid big for Prince

Where would an ownerless team get the money for this deal?
They aren't really ownerless.  Their owner is being forced to sell.  McCourt is likely to get more than 1.5 billion for the team.  He would only be liable for the first couple payments on any contract this year.  The question he would have to ask is if a contract like this would increase or decrease his team's value for the upcoming sell.  I would imagine it reached a point where the large and lengthy contract was just not worth it.

I would not be at all surprised to see the Dodgers make a big splash on the trade market this summer.  I would be shocked if they don't sign at least one big name free agent next off season.  Nobody is going to invest that much in a baseball team without looking to invest more in the product.

Since: Jul 29, 2011
Posted on: January 26, 2012 7:46 pm

Dodgers secretly bid big for Prince

The Dodgers?  Are you kidding me?  Where would an ownerless team get the money for this deal?  Who, on behalf of The Dodgers, has the authority to make this deal while this team is being sold?  Sounds Fishy!  He's better off in Detroit!  He will bring fans to the stadium because his dad played there ( hit 50+ homers).  He's better than Daddy and The Tigers are now the favorites in The AL Central!  Let's go Jim Leyland!  Detroit needs someting to celebrate!

Since: May 2, 2007
Posted on: January 26, 2012 7:34 pm

Dodgers secretly bid big for Prince

who cares if the dodgers made a bid?  the fact remains he signed with Detroit and thats all that matters.  Add another team to the mix of names not mentioned

Since: Oct 4, 2007
Posted on: January 26, 2012 7:25 pm

Dodgers secretly bid big for Prince

McCourt, Colletti and Scott Boras ( OK, I said it...puuuke), can't you just see those 3 in the same room together in conversation saying "trust me"? 

Since: Oct 4, 2007
Posted on: January 26, 2012 7:13 pm

Dodgers secretly bid big for Prince

Fielder I like, his agent I despise. So as a Dodger fan this is sweet news either way. I think it is best the way it turned out. Knowing his agent (simply will not say his name without puking, so I leave it out) he used the Dodgers to get a better deal from someone else. That said...I must admit Fielder may have simply wanted to go to Detroit as a first choice team too.

Since: Oct 4, 2007
Posted on: January 26, 2012 7:07 pm

Dodgers secretly bid big for Prince

Spags - put your thinking cap on and quit talkin' like a rookie. There were meetings held with all the potential owners together at once to talk about the sale...gee... do you think a poll was taken on who was not in favor of making this move before it was ever made? Comeon man, think.

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