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.
Owner Mike Ilitch recalled how Prince Fielder used to hang around Tiger Stadium when 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.
Manager Jim 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.
Among current players, Fielder’s $23.78 million average salary is behind only Alex Rodriguez ($27.5 million), Ryan Howard ($25 million), Cliff Lee and Albert Pujols ($24 million each).
NATIONALS: Free-agent reliever Brad Lidge agreed to a one-year contract with Washington.
Last season, the right-hander only threw 19⅓ innings for the Philadelphia Phillies, going 0-2 with a 1.40 ERA and one save. He didn’t pitch until late July because of elbow and shoulder problems in his right arm.
Lidge is 26-31 with 233 saves and a 3.44 ERA in 592 appearances in his 10-year career.