With the bombshell that the Tigers have agreed to sign Prince Fielder to a 9 year contract, the impact on fantasy owners is pretty widespread. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the winners and losers from the signing:
Prince Fielder - He just signed a contract that will pay him upwards of $200 million dollars over the next 9 years. Regardless of whether or not he earns that money over the life of the contract, he still gets it. Clear winner.
AL-Only Leagues - In addition to adding Albert Pujols to the available player pool, they now have Prince Fielder as well. 1B has become a position that is full of depth, and with the signing 11 of Ray's top 12 overall 1B now in the American League. Single-league fantasy owners will now have Pujols, Fielder, Yu Darvish, among others who have now moved into the AL, while players of the same caliber have not left for the NL.
Miguel Cabrera Owners - There was some discussion yesterday whether or not Cabrera should play 3B for the Tigers, but the answer appears to be that he will. Cabrera was viewed as at worst, the #2 1B, and generally the #3 overall player for fantasy this season. With eligibility at a much shallower position, I would honestly be inclined to put Cabrera at #1 overall. He should pick up 3B eligibility in all leagues within a few weeks of the season, and could have the potential to keep his 1B eligibility as well.
Teams Interested In Acquiring Nick Castellanos - With Cabrera locked into 3B for the next 4 seasons, and ownership clearly signaling a "Win-Now message", there could be an opportunity for teams interested in acquiring the Tigers' 3B prospect. There's not a guarantee here, but if the team looks close come the trade deadline, there's a very distinct possibility that Castellanos could be made available for the right player.
NL-Only Leagues - Ray mentioned yesterday that there may be a lack of power in the National League now, and first base is definitely a lot worse for 2012. Ryan Howard is expected to miss a large portion of the season, and Ray still has him as his #3 1B in the NL for this season. Between Pujols and Fielder leaving, the power leader boards start looking pretty thin at the top for the NL this year. Here's the list of players who hit more than 30 home runs last year who will play in the NL this year:
Matt Kemp (39) | Dan Uggla (36) | Mike Stanton (34) | Ryan Braun (33) | Ryan Howard (33) | Jay Bruce (32)
The only players who missed that 30 home run plateau that I might add to the likely list are Joey Votto (29),and Carlos Gonzalez (26), but they basically replace Braun and Howard on that list, as neither of them are likely to hit 30+ this season. That list leads me to think that elite level power like the players listed above will be even more expensive in auction leagues, and more vital to success in draft leagues.
Brandon Inge - The Tigers had a 3B slotted in prior to yesterday, although it remains to be seen how much he will play with Miguel Cabrera moving over there. Realistically, he could see some at bats at designated hitter or at 3B when Cabrera sits or DH's himself, but I don't think he's likely to play in nearly as many games as he would have without the Fielder signing.
Doug Fister - While his strikeout rate increased dramatically in Detroit last season, so did his ground ball rate. He finished last season with a 50% GB rate in his starts for Detroit, and while I'm not sure how much of a difference there is between Cabrera and Inge at 3B defensively, there is absolutely a difference. It's hard to say yet just how much it will hurt Fister, but I can't think that this helps his numbers particularly.
Rick Porcello - I think the fielding portion of this actually hurts Porcello more, as he's never shown a particularly high strikeout rate but has shown a high groundball rate (51% last year). The fact that he's going to be even more reliant on his defense than Porcello will lead him away from all of my teams this year.
The Pitching Staffs of the Royals, Indians, Twins, and White Sox - For anyone thinking that the Tigers might not produce as much offense due to the Victor Martinez injury, this pretty much stops that. These pitching staffs are going to see the combination of Fielder and Cabrera the most, and it definitely doesn't help them either.