Fielder signs mega Tigers deal

2012-01-27 09:19

Detroit - First baseman Price Fielder and the Detroit Tigers finalised a $214 million, nine-year contract on Thursday, the fourth-largest deal in Major League Baseball history.

Fielder was born in 1984, the last time Detroit won the World Series. The Tigers hope Fielder will help usher in a new championship era for the Motor City, where his father Cecil played from 1990-96.

"This is awesome," Fielder said. "It's kind of a dream come true. I'm excited."

Detroit began seriously pursuing Fielder after designated hitter Victor Martinez tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during offseason conditioning. Now the Tigers have three of MLB's biggest stars - Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander - all in their primes. Detroit won the American League Central by 15 games last year but lost to Texas in the AL Championship Series.

"We're trying to win right now," general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "We tried to win last year. We were close. I think we've reached a point now, on a yearly basis, we feel that way. When you look at the core of our group of players, there's a lot of guys that are on that field right now that are quality players."

This is the fourth $200 million contract in MLB history, following Alex Rodriguez's $275 million, 10-year contract with the New York Yankees, A-Rod's $252 million, 10-year deal with Texas and Albert Pujols's $240 million, 10-year contract last month with the Los Angeles Angels.

Among current players, Fielder's $23.78 million average salary is behind only A-Rod ($27.5 million), Ryan Howard ($25 million), and Cliff Lee and Pujols ($24 million each).

Fielder's contract includes a limited no-trade provision. He can be traded to 10 clubs without his consent before 2017, when he gains rights to block all trades under MLB's labour contract as a 10-year veteran who has been with a team for at least five years.

He will earn $23 million in each of his first two years with Detroit, then will make $24 million annually in the final seven seasons of his contract.

The move carries plenty of risk for the Tigers. Fielder is 27 and has been extremely durable during his career, but Detroit is committing to him for almost a decade.

"I go by my instinct, like everybody else does," said owner Mike Ilitch, who signed off on the massive deal after what had been a quiet off-season for the Tigers. "My instincts told me that this is going to work out fine."