On the long list of Scott Boras shockers, this one ranks near the top.
Boras’ top free-agent client, first baseman Prince Fielder, has agreed to a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Tigers, according to major-league sources.
Fielder’s deal with the Tigers does not include an opt-out provision, a source said.
Tigers general manager David Dombrowski recently told ESPN.com that Fielder, “doesn’t fit for us. He’s looking for a long-term deal and that just doesn’t fit.”
Either Dombrowski was shading the truth, or Tigers owner Mike Ilitch — who has worked well with Boras in the past — made a last-minute call to sign Fielder.
The Tigers’ slugging first baseman, Miguel Cabrera, is guaranteed $86 million over the next four seasons. But the team recently lost its principal DH, Victor Martinez, to a knee injury that is likely to sideline him for all of ‘12.
Fielder and Cabrera figure to share time at first base and DH, forming one of the game’s most potent middle-of-the-lineup combinations. Fielder hits from the left side, Cabrera from the right.
The Nationals had been a leading contender for Fielder, but their ownership was divided on whether to give him the type of long-term deal he was seeking. The Orioles, Rangers and Mariners also showed varying interest in Fielder.
Many in the game doubted that Boras would land a monster deal for Fielder at this late stage of the offseason. But Fielder’s contract will rank as the fourth largest in the game’s history, behind Alex Rodriguez’s two free-agent deals and Albert Pujols’ recent 10-year, $240 million agreement with the Angels.
Fielder’s average salary of $23.8 million will be third only to the Phillies’ Ryan Howard and Pujols among first basemen. Howard averages $25 million, Pujols $24 million. The Yankees’ Mark Teixeira averages $22.5 million, the Red Sox’s Adrian Gonzalez $22 million.
The loss of Fielder, meanwhile, will leave a gaping hole in the Brewers’ lineup, particularly with the team also facing the possible suspension of left fielder Ryan Braun for 50 games due to a violation of baseball’s drug policy.
News of Fielder’s signing was first reported by Yahoo! Sports and CBSSports.com.