Since 2008, there have been five megabucks contracts handed out to five elite first basemen. Those deals might be instructive as to the kind deal Prince Fielder can hope to expect – and the kind of deal the Nationals may have to fork over in order to land him.
These deals came in different ways, at different points of each players’ career. Ryan Howard received an extension, and Miguel Cabrera had his final year of arbitration bought out. So these are not all ideal analogies for Fielder, but the figures offer the right picture for the kind of financial stratosphere he fits into. The contracts are:
Albert Pujols, Angels: $240 million for 10 years ($24 million per)
Mark Teixeira, Yankees: $180 million for 8 years ($22.5 million per)
Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: $154 million for 7 years ($22 million per)
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: $152.3 million for 8 years ($19 million per)
Ryan Howard, Phillies: $125 million for 5 years ($25 million per)
(I should make this clear before we get any further: This post is based on my own analysis, not on any sources involved in the negotiations, unless otherwise noted.)
The average length of the five contracts is 7.6 years, with an average annual value (AAV) of $22.51 million. So if we’re using the above set of comparables for a barometer for Fielder, he’d get a 7.6-year contract worth $171.1 million.
Unfortunately for this exercise, they do not hand out contracts without an integer for the length of the deal. For our purposes, then, we should round down. One Nationals person not involved with current talks, but familiar with the team’s plans, said he would be stunned to see the Nationals sign Fielder to a contract longer than seven years.
If Fielder received a seven-year deal and kept our $22.51 AAV, he’d get $157.6 million over the duration of the contract. But, even in our hypothetical world, it does not seem fair for Fielder to accept fewer years without compensating for the AAV.
If we take the years from 7.6 to seven, we’re reducing the length of the contract by 7.89 percent. This is surely nonsense math, but whatever: To compensate for the reduction in length, we’ll increase the total value of that $157.6 million by 7.89 percent.
That gives us a seven-year deal worth $170 million, which carries an AAV of $24.3 million. Fielder would be making more per year than Pujols, a more accomplished player. But given that Fielder is four years younger than Pujols and he’d be receiving three fewer years, that actually seems pretty fair to me.
So let that be NJ’s official prediction for Fielder’s deal, whichever teams signs him: seven years, $170 million.