Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Buster Olney thinks the Dodgers should sign Prince Fielder

The Dodgers' ownership flux will be resolved in the next couple months, with Jan. 23 being a big day. And with the the 23rd approaching quickly, Buster Olney penned a column (ESPN Insider required) today stating the Dodgers should sign Prince Fielder.
"There's one more thing McCourt can do to add to the feeding frenzy, however. He should go out and sign Prince Fielder. Right now."
He said it'd benefit McCourt in the long run because it'd make the club more attractive to the seemingly never-ending stream of billionaires lining up to bid on the Dodgers.

Olney threw out a couple of contract numbers, both of which are not exactly realistic this far into free agency.
"The Dodgers might be able to get Fielder for seven years and $175 million, or maybe eight for $192 million."
Yeah, that'd be crazy. I don't think there's any way Fielder gets that many years or dollars annually. The teams lining up for his services aren't exactly top-notch franchises (Washington, Baltimore, Seattle) which benefits the Dodgers. Something along the lines of five or six years guaranteed with a couple option years seems more realistic.

But we've been through that before.

Olney did make a good point, though:
"They would sell more tickets, draw higher ratings and give the next owners a little more leverage in negotiating that next television contract."
Most definitely. Well that, coupled with McCourt being out as the owner and the Dodgers would be back to 3 million-plus fans in no time. And the next TV contract would benefit from a better product on the field.

However, I strongly disagree with his next statement.
"Fielder would be to the Dodgers what Shaquille O'Neal was to the Lakers."
That's a bit far-fetched for me to buy into. O'Neal made the Lakers a championship contender right away. O'Neal is one of the most dominant players of all-time. Fielder is a really, really good player, but he's not on the same level as Shaq.

I obviously agree the Dodgers should sign him, as it makes a ton of sense. But his column didn't really make a persuasive argument.

While the addition of Fielder would make the club more attractive to potential buyers, he isn't a franchise-changing player. He's more of a division-changing, maybe league-changing player, but he's far from the likes of Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez (with Boston) or Shaquille O'Neal.

Still, it's fun to daydream about it. The odds of this happening have to be less than 5 percent (admittedly arbitrary), but every day Fielder is a free agent only benefits the Dodgers, and not just in the "he's-available-for-anyone-to-sign-way."

While Fielder or Scott Boras, his agent, won't come out and state it publicly, it's fair to say they're waiting to see how the ownership situation plays out before committing to a team. But if a team came to them with an outrageous offer (like the ones Olney proposes), they wouldn't hesitate.

If Fielder is still a free agent in February, the odds Fielder signs with the Dodgers goes up to at least 6 or 7 percent.

A 3-4-5 of Matt Kemp-Fielder-Andre Ethier would be quite attractive. Here's hoping it happens, even though it most likely won't.


Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness has a fantastic post about the 12 ownership groups looking to buy the Dodgers. It's a great read.

Jared Massey of L.A. Dodger Report also has a breakdown of six billionaire groups looking at purchasing the Dodgers.

The Magic Johsnon/Stan Kasten group is the most appealing to me.

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