If it ends — and it looks like it has ended — Prince Fielder’s tenure as a Milwaukee Brewer ended with an 0-for-4 night and a weak grounder to second base.
But that will soon be forgotten. For one thing, he had an overall productive 2011 postseason, getting on base and hitting for power. For another, he leaves behind six seasons — and part of a seventh — in Milwaukee that have been nothing short of spectacular: 230 homers, 656 RBI and a line of .282/.390/.540. He has been a critical part of two Brewers’ playoff teams and stands as one of the more popular men to ever wear the team’s uniform.
But it’s that production and his impending free agency that makes Fielder all but certain to wear a different uniform in 2012. Even with Albert Pujols on the market and the Yankees and Red Sox seemingly out of the bidding for a big first base bat, Fielder’s price tag is likely to approach $200 million. That’s widely accepted to be outside of the realm of the possible for team owner Mark Attanasio. The Brewers are a tremendous business success for a team in as small a market as Milwaukee, but they can’t afford that kind of a deal, especially when they’re already committed to Ryan Braun for $105 million through 2020.
So, barring an uncharacteristic hometown discount for the Scott Boras-represented Fielder, this is the end of the road for him in Wisconsin. I would assume that Brewers fans — a pretty knowledgeable lot — understand that this is business and I’d assume they’ll greet Fielder warmly if and when he returns to Miller Park wearing home grays.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.