Saying “dreams come true,” Prince Fielder was introduced Thursday by the Detroit Tigers.
Fielder appeared at a news conference at Comerica Park after finalizing a $214 million, nine-year contract, the fourth-largest deal in baseball history.
"This is awesome," Fielder said. "I just never thought this could happen."
With Detroit desperate to win its first World Series title since 1984, the big first baseman will combine with Miguel Cabrera to give the Tigers perhaps the most formidable Nos. 3-4 hitters in the major leagues. But with Cabrera shifting to third, it also will give Detroit a potentially troublesome defense at the infield corners.
Fielder was seated at a dais along with owner Mike Ilitch, manager Jim Leyland, GM Dave Dombrowski and agent Scott Boras.
Dombrowski called it “a very exciting time for this city” as Fielder was given his Tigers jersey.
Ilitch recalled how Prince Fielder used to hang around Tiger Stadium whether his father Cecil played for Detroit.
"He was marked to be a major league baseball player," Ilitch said.
Ilitch said discussions began after the Tigers learned that Victor Martinez will miss most or all of the season because of a knee injury sustained during offseason workouts.
Leyland said Brandon Inge, who is being displaced because of Fielder’s arrival caused Cabrera’s move to third, “isn’t the happiest camper.” Leyland also said he thought Cabrera was capable of handling defensive duties at third.
Fielder 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 $214 million, nine-year contract, according to terms obtained by The Associated Press.
That contrasts with Albert Pujols’ backloaded $240 million, 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels, agreed to last month.
Pujols gets $12 million this year and $16 million in 2013, with the salary increasing to $23 million in 2014 and then rising $1 million annually.
Fielder would get an additional $500,000 if he’s the AL MVP, $200,000 if he’s second through fifth and $100,000 if he’s sixth through 10th. For each MVP he wins after the first, he would get $1 million.
He also would get $100,000 if he’s an All-Star starter and $50,000 if he’s a reserve, or alternatively $100,000 if he’s a Baseball America or Sporting News postseason All-Star. He also would receive $100,000 for a Gold Glove, $100,000 for a Silver Slugger, $100,000 for the Hank Aaron Award, $150,000 for league championship series MVP and $200,000 for World Series MVP.
In addition, he gets a hotel suite on the road.
Fielder made $15.7 million in his final season with the Brewers. He had a $15.5 million base salary and earned $100,000 for finishing third in NL MVP voting, $50,000 for starting the All-Star game and $50,000 for a Silver Slugger award.
This is the fourth $200 million contract in baseball 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 Pujols’ agreement with the 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).