Fielder is a STARTING POINT for the spending. This organization, backed by MASN, is rolling in money. Don't fool yourself. If the Orioles want to be serious players, they could get very serious my friend. They simply don't want to $pend. It's really that simple
The only way that Prince Fielder would make sense as a STARTING POINT would be if subsequent moves included signing the most expensive free agent pitchers (at least two, probably more like four), second base, third base, left field, and at least two relievers. That'd take our payroll beyond that of the New York Yankees.
I'm not saying the Orioles should never pay market rate (that is, overpay) for a premier player. What I'm saying is they shouldn't pay market rate (again, translation: overpay) for a premier player right now
. There are just too many holes, and not enough in-house options to fill them.
If the O's were to sign Fielder, he'd be around for a while. I get that. But for that long while he'd restrict what they'd be able to do on the free agent market, meaning that the majority
of improvement at other positions would need to be internal. Let's say they can trade Hardy in two years for a competent third baseman, and Machado can step in on day one as a shortstop, while Schoop steps in at the same time as a competitive 2B. At that point, we've basically expended our farm system. Maybe Bundy steps in and is an ace from day one, like Tim Lincecum. And Matusz also returns to his pre-2010 trajectory, and is a viable starter. Let's also say that Arrieta finds some control and consistency and is also a viable starter. Guthrie would be an old man by this point, but let's pretend that he's found some Jamie Moyer-esque late career success. Let's also say that a bunch of our low level reliever prospects pan out and form a solid bullpen, along with Jim Johnson. Wieters is a stud behind the plate as well. And we re-signed Adam Jones, which means giving him a massive contract, and we're still paying Nick Markakis
$15 mill a year, and he's miraculously returned to his pre-2007 trajectory, so he's not drastically overpaid anymore. And because so many things went right, Angelos agreed to up the budget and shelled out for a legitimate starting LF (or, Reimold somehow developed into a stud. Take your pick).
That's the hypothetical situation in which signing Fielder makes sense. To me, it's a bit of a longshot to invest $150 million into.
Meanwhile, trading relatively valuable veteran assets for prospects, while reinvesting the saved money into the minor league system, is a proven rebuilding plan that seems to be embraced and understood by virtually every franchise in the sport, except for the one we root for. It's nice to think that major financial investment in free agency is a panacea that can immediately reverse 14 years of frustration, but we know empirically that that's not the case. For as satisfying as it is to point to the Yankees and Red Sox and say that they win because they spend, the truth is that their spending occurs on top of a solid organizational foundation that put the majority of pieces in place. We aren't there. Not even close.
At this point, I regard demands for free agent spending to be little more than populist rage. It's satisfying to think that if it weren't for this greedy SOB who is pocketing all the profits and suckering the fans, everything would be OK. The reality is much more complicated, and requires a much more difficult solution.