DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers responded to a jarring injury with an audacious move.
Free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder and the Tigers agreed Tuesday to a nine-year, $214 million contract that fills the A.L. Central champions’ need for a power hitter, a person familiar with the deal said.
Detroit boldly stepped up in the Fielder sweepstakes after the recent knee injury to star Victor Martinez. A week ago, the Tigers announced the productive designated hitter could miss the entire season after tearing his left ACL during offseason conditioning.
CBS first reported the agreement with Fielder.
The person told the Associated Press the deal was subject to a physical. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract was not yet complete.
The Tigers won their division by 15 games before losing in the A.L. championship series to Texas. Adding Fielder, 27, gives the Tigers two of the game’s premier sluggers, pairing him with Miguel Cabrera.
With Fielder in the fold, general manager Dave Dombrowski and owner Mike Ilitch have a team that figures to enter the 2012 season with an eye on winning the franchise’s first World Series title since 1984.
“Everyone knew Mr. Ilitch and Mr. Dombrowski were going to make a move when Victor went down,” outfielder Brennan Boesch said in a phone interview with the AP. “But I don’t think anybody thought it would be this big.”
The move also keeps Fielder’s name in the Tigers’ family. His father, Cecil, became a big league star when he returned to the majors from Japan and hit 51 home runs with Detroit in 1990. Cecil played with the Tigers into the 1996 season, and young Prince made a name for himself by hitting prodigious home runs in batting practice at Tiger Stadium.
In an interview with MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, Cecil Fielder said he was “shocked” by the news that Prince was heading to Detroit.
“He’s been there in Detroit most of his young life so I think he’ll be comfortable in that place,” he said. “I know Mr. Ilitch is probably excited because he’s been wanting that kid since he was a little kid, so he finally got his wish.”
The beefy slugger hit .299 with 38 home runs and 120 RBIs last season. He is a three-time All-Star.
Fielder has averaged 40 homers and 113 RBIs over the past five years. He’s also durable, appearing in at least 157 games in each of the last six seasons.