Should the Orioles Sign Prince Fielder after the 2011 Season?

By jamesgibson

Ben Nicholson-Smith over at MLBTR has a post up today entitled “Orioles Appear Poised To Spend This Winter,” reporting on a CBS Sports piece that has Oriole officials essentially saying that they’ll have scads of money to spend in the 2011-12 offseason. Prince Fielder is named as someone the club might pursue, but as noted in the post, his comparables (Mark Teixeria and Adrian Gonzalez) have set his market at around $22 million annually.

What do we think, Oriole Township? Is Cecil’s little boy worth that kind of coin for a rebuilding-ish club? Should they mimic their “rivals” down I-95 and overpay, a la Werth, to get a premier free agent to sign with their also-ran organization? (That’s not fair – to Prince. He’s a lot better than Jayson Werth.)

My take is that there’s no reason not to sign Prince, if (and ONLY if) whatever money committed to him will not adversely impact player development at the lower levels (draft picks, obviously, but I’m also talking major and minor league scouting, minor league player support systems, etc.). The next great Orioles club is going to have to be built from the minor league system, and it’s insane to short-circuit that to bring in a free agent, even one as great as Prince.

On the other hand, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is loaded. (Insert Miguel Cabrera/Derek Lowe/Shinn-Soo Choo/Tony La Russa joke here.) For all I know, he can pay Prince AND have a world-class player development department. If that’s doable, go for it. If it isn’t, let it ride, and go overpay free agents when a critical mass of kids down on the farm are ready for the majors.

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