GMZ gets to write the story on this one, and there are some interesting paths he could take. We have Jack Cust right now, and keeping him around is always possible. With the obvious past ties to the Brewers and Prince Fielder, its not hard to connect the dots to GMZ making a push to sign him next year as another option. But let's be honest, with the current word on the street being a desired contract of $200M/8yr, there's no way we do that. No way you commit 1/4 your payroll to a guy who doesn't play a defensive position. No way you give a guy who is waaay overweight an eight year contract. Of course, its simply a desire, and the market will dictate the price if Prince wants a contract.
But its feasible the market will be there for Prince to get close to his desires. There are more than a few teams who could enter the bidding/wooing process for Prince's services, and according to Cot's Contracts if Adrian Gonzalez extends with Boston, and Pujols re-signs with St Louis, then prince is one of the only FA 1B, and will easily be the only elite one in the class. Then there are the teams who, for one reason or another, may take an interest in Fielder. At first glance the Blue Jays, Cubs, Diamondbacks (depending on the success of Juan Miranda), Dodgers (do they re-up with Loney??), Orioles, Rangers (if Chris Davis fails for another year, do they trust Moreland instead?), and Rockies (part ways with Helton?) could all take an interest. Add in the Mariners and we have eight possible teams in the bidding. It only takes two GMs to jack up a price, so you do the math. He won't come cheap.
So let's assume Fielder is beyond our realistic grasp to fill the DH spot, who plays there in 2012? Its possible that we keep Cust for another year or two, but I have another idea.....
So can we agree that we're rebuilding, and that GMZ is trying to stay with the youth movement and keep our costs low? What if there was a player who brings a very nice bat, both in power and patience, who more or less has no defensive position to call home... could we actually promote a player from the minors to be a career DH from the get-go?? Well I ask: why not? People, if his numbers continue to impress in AA/AAA in 2011, my vote is for Rich Poythress to be considered our future DH. he's 6'4", 235 lbs, and brings a real bat with him. He was our 2nd rd pick after Dustin Ackley and Nick Franklin in the '09 draft, meaning GMZ was high on him then, and it was well known at the time that he had no defensive prowess... he simply brings the wood.
Last year at A+ High Desert, he went .315/.382/.580/.961, and I know, "but that's at High Desert" is the obvious gut-check response, however he hit more HRs on the road than at home, and was equally impressive in his stat lines across the board, home or away. At home he hit .339/.413/.579/.991, but he likewise hit .291/.346/.581/.927 on the road. On top of that he was almost as impressive against lefties and he was against right handers. In one pre-draft scouting report he was classified as such:
"Poythress is a big, strong, slow power hitter whose build and approach bring to mind big leaguers like Jim Thome and Frank Thomas. Poythress drifts a little, getting his weight on his front foot earlier than he should, but he is so strong that he can drive balls on the outer half of the plate to the right-center wall with little trouble and his pull power is substantial. He's disciplined and runs deep counts, but he chases hard stuff that is up or under his hands. He's extremely slow, both as a runner and in quickness at first base, so he must hit to have any value. He's strong enough and patient enough that that shouldn't be a problem." (link)
Well, he "hit" last year, just like he "hit" in college. And if he "hits" next year in AA/AAA, can a rebuilding team, who drafted him in the second round, seriously not consider him as our potential DH of the future? In an era where DH's are normally old, injury prone sluggers (or ex-sluggers), we could save the cash from a Prince Fielder contract, and spend it on an ace pitcher, and instead use our own young, healthy, very productive, and cheap Rich Poythress as our next career DH.