GM Melvin: Fielder was the key to Brewers’ resurgence
Here’s what Brewers general manager Doug Melvin had to say about Prince Fielder signing with the Tigers:
“People were saying, ‘What does [Boras] have? He doesn’t have any offers,’” Melvin said, “Whatever. You only have to have one team, two teams involved. Prince is a very valued player, and we would have loved to have him [longer] but we didn’t have that money. Scott got a deal that he likes and it looks like a pretty good deal for Prince.”
Melvin said he figured the Tigers could be players for Prince after news that another of their stars, Victor Martinez, suffered a knee injury in his offseason training. So he wasn’t totally surprised to see Detroit jump in at the last moment.
As for the fact that the Tigers are not on the Brewers’ schedule in 2012, Melvin said, “I wasn’t worried about that. My approach with Prince is that he helped turn this organization around. He took us from a level where we were rebuilding, and he was ‘the guy.’ He was here even before Ryan [Braun] was. Prince, I feel proud of the opportunity we were able to give him here, and he capitalized on it.
“We traded Lyle Overbay coming off a monster year for Lyle Overbay [at the 2005 Winter Meetings, clearing a spot in the lineup for Fielder], and that was a huge gamble. Prince stepped up. What else can you ask? The guy plays every day, every inning, and he brought a lot of great emotion to this franchise.
“In some sense, I’m glad he got a good contract that he’s satisfied with. We knew early on that we probably weren’t going to be in it. I think Prince probably knew that, too.”
As for the chatter recently that the Brewers were waiting in the wings with a one-year offer for Fielder? Not true, Melvin said.
“We never had that conversation, and if we did, it was way, way back so far I don’t even remember it,” Melvin said. “He was never going to sign a one-year contract. Whoever put that out there was obviously not involved in it.”
Melvin confirmed that the Brewers’ last serious talks with Boras and Fielder about an extension were during 2010 Spring Training. Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash flew to Los Angeles to join principal owner Mark Attanasio for a meeting with Boras. Melvin called it Milwaukee’s “best pitch,” though he would not say once and for all what the best offer was. It’s been reported in some places as five years and $100 million, and other places as six years at $120 million or more.
Since then, the Brewers have allocated resources elsewhere, including contract extensions for Braun, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks and Yovani Gallardo.
“We had to go on and do our business,” Melvin said.
The Brewers will get two Draft picks as compensation for Fielder’s departure. The 27th overall pick in the first round, from Detroit, plus another pick between the first round and the second round. Those are in addition to the first-round selection Milwaukee already owned: 28th.
“At least we get Draft picks,” Melvin said. “We’ve been screwed on that before.”
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