I have always thought the answer to this question was a profound, "NO!" But looking at the "bad contracts" coming off the books at the end of this year, I am beginning to think there is a small chance that we could sign him and still remain financially viable and extremely competitive for a few years, but a couple of things would have to be done to make it possible.
First, let's compete with the team Melvin has fielded for the year so far, with maybe adding Mulder to an incentive laden deal. Let's get through 2010 and plan for making a big run 2011-2013.
Second, at the end of this season we can all celebrate that we will no longer have to pay Bill Hall $7 million to play for Seattle. We don't have to pay Jeff Suppan $12.5 million anymore to fill a roster spot,. And let's send David Riske and his $4.5 million contract off to free agency as well. With those three contracts gone alone, the Brewers will be freeing up $24 million in payroll for 2011. And hopefully Brett Lawrie will be ready for the majors by 2011 so that we could save a few million at second base as well by letting Weeks hit free agency.
Third, the day after the 2010 World Series ends, offer Prince a serious offer. I'm thinking 6 years, $135 million. Starting at $15 million for 2011 and increasing by $3 million each year, ending with a salary of $30 million in 2016. Maybe even bump it up by $1-2 million a year if we really need to.
Considering Prince will make $10.5 million this year, that is only $4.5 million more for his services in 2011. This would leave the $19.5 million coming off the books for Suppan and Hall, plus any other salary dumping to be used for arbitration and other roster adjustments. Meaning that we could probably grab another #2 or 3 level starter.
This could mean that through 2011-2013 our starting depth chart could look something like this: 1B-Prince, 2B Lawrie, 3B McGehee/Gamel/Free Agent, SS Escobar, C Zaun/Lucroy/Salome, LF Braun, CF Gomez, RF Hart/Cain/Gamel/Free Agent/Trade, P Gallardo/Wolf/Parra/Free Agents/Trades/Farm System-Rogers, Arnett, Heckathorn.
I think that would be a great team to watch with a good mix of speed and power, as well as a pitching staff that looks much better than 2009 and what we will likely field for 2010. It is an offense that could keep putting the runs on the board like we have the past couple seasons and a pitching staff/defense that would give up much fewer than we did last year as well, especially if Parra turns it around and starts to pitch like we all know he can.
By 2013 though, Prince's contract along with Braun's would combine for around $29 million of the Brewer's payroll, and about $34 million for 2014, so the Brewers would probably have to trade Fielder sometime before or during the 2014 season, where his contract would be a bargain for most big market teams allowing us to recieve some quality prospects in return.
I know that locking up $30-35 million of our payroll in two players is a huge gamble, a bit extreme, and I'm not sure anything like this would ever happen. But I would love to see something like this pulled off. What do you think?