Victor Martinez’s season-ending knee injury puts the Tigers in the market for a veteran designated hitter and has some fans getting their hopes up for Prince Fielder, but general manager Dave Dombrowski threw cold water on that notion yesterday.
Angela Wittrock of MLive.com asked the GM about Fielder during the Tigers’ winter caravan tour and Dombrowski replied:
Of course we’d consider Prince Fielder, but realistically it’s probably not a good fit. We anticipate Victor Martinez coming back in 2013 and playing at the level he was at last season. I would just say the fit is really not there at this point.
Fielder might make sense as a Martinez replacement this season if the Tigers were willing to dramatically expand their payroll, but the problem is that Fielder will require a long-term deal and Martinez is owed $13 million this year, $13 million next year, and $12 million in 2014. And the Tigers also have first baseman Miguel Cabrera under contract for $86 million over the next four seasons.
There’s no doubt that the last three years have put David Wright through the ringer. The Mets third baseman missed the bulk of his 2015 season with spinal stenosis and made it through a month of games in 2016 before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. In 2017, a bout of shoulder impingement, rotator cuff surgery and a laminotomy procedure on his lower back kept him off the field for all 162 games.
Despite the continual setbacks, Wright told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, he doesn’t believe retirement is in the cards for him this year. “When the end comes, the end comes,” he said Friday. “Hopefully, I’ve got a little more left. But I guess that’s to be determined.”
The 35-year-old last appeared for High-A St. Lucie in 2017, powering through three games with one hit and five strikeouts in 10 plate appearances. His career has advanced in fits and starts since 2015, but you don’t have to do too much digging to find his last great performance with the Mets. Wright earned his seventh career All-Star berth in 2013, slashing .307/.390/.514 with 18 home runs and a terrific 6.0 fWAR in 492 PA. While he isn’t expected to mash at those levels in the near future, if ever again, the Mets believe the veteran third baseman might still have something left in the tank as he tries to extend a 13-year run in the majors.
Per DiComo, the only thing standing in his way is a clean bill of health — not just for the upcoming season, but for the years to come. Wright said he wouldn’t risk returning to the field if it came with long-term implications for his quality of life.
The surgeries are obviously serious stuff, but it just kind of plays with your mind mentally, where you don’t know how your body’s going to hold up,” Wright said. “You don’t know how you’re going to feel a month from now. You don’t know how you’re going to feel a couple weeks from now. You’re hoping that it continues to get better, but you just don’t know.
Given the uncertainty that surrounds his return to the game, it’s a prudent outlook to have.