Melvin Shouldn’t Budge (Yet) on Fielder Return

July 28, 2010 - Milwaukee, WI, USA - 28 July 2010: Prince Fielder.

With Prince Fielder likely playing his last home game as a Brewer on Sunday, there was a lot of talk yesterday about what the Brewers could realistically expect in a trade.  FanGraphs had a good take on the subject, and I’m going to use it as a jumping off point here.

Dave Cameron closes his piece with this:

How much is a one year rental 1B/DH with an expected salary of $15 million worth? Probably a lot less than Brewer fans are hoping for.

At this point, I don’t think there are many Brewer fans out there expecting the world for Prince.  We’ve been hearing for a year now that most teams (rightfully) see him as a DH-only type, that he’s determined to hit the open market, and that Scott Boras wants Ryan Howard money.  What you get is one year of a hired gun that you have next to no chance of re-signing, no matter who you are.  We get it.

This does not mean that Doug Melvin should lower his standards to any starting pitcher and a couple of middling prospects a contender is willing to give up.  I think Melvin was right in passing on a Fielder-for-Daniel Hudson one-for-one deal, regardless of how well Hudson has pitched in Arizona since being traded for Edwin Jackson.  If you’re going to trade Prince, you need to get at least two players, and those two players need to exceed the value of the two compensation picks you’d get by keeping Fielder through next season.

Are compensation picks sure things?  Of course not.  We saw what happened a couple winters ago when we put all of our eggs in the compensation basket with CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets — the Yankees went on their spending spree and the Brewers ended up getting their comp picks bumped down due to the Mark Teixeira signing.  As Bernie’s Crew’s Ryan Topp pointed out yesterday, too, there’s no guarantee the compensation system will be the same under the next CBA.

It would be risky to hang onto the “equivalent to two comp picks” standard, but Melvin needs to stick to his guns if he’s going to get anything close to what he’s looking for.  I don’t want to see a repeat of last offseason, when Melvin traded J.J. Hardy to the first team that called him in November. 

Don’t lower your standards, let the free agent period play out a bit, and let someone get desperate.  I’m not expecting a Mark Teixeira-to-Atlanta type of trade package, but I do want to see a first round talent or two in return.

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