It’s possible that with the news of former pop star Aaron Carter being bankrupt you may have missed the blockbuster trade between the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers. On Tuesday, sources confirmed that the Tigers sent Prince Fielder and $30 million to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler in what will certainly be considered a major coup for the only competitive professional Texas baseball team. Detroit wants to win now and Texas may just be getting started.
In a trade that Kinsler found out about through reports, as opposed to hearing from his team, the pair of All-Stars swap teams and both fill huge voids for the respective clubs. Kinsler will take over at second base from Omar Infante, adding some pop and a solid glove in the middle infield. Miguel Cabrera will move back to first base after seeing only mediocre defensive results since moving to third base when Fielder was acquired. Detroit is hoping that Kinsler can revive a once-stellar career at second base instead of mirroring just-better-than-average numbers of 2013. With 2013 Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer, at the end of his contract and looming as trade bait, the Tigers will most likely fish for more offense in hopes of returning to the World Series for the third time in four years. This is a team that is built to win now, and a 2010-2011 Ian Kinsler could get them there.
Prince Fielder joined the Tigers after six phenomenal years in Milwaukee. He goes to Texas following two solid years in Detroit in which he hit .295, 55 home runs, 214 RBI, and played in every single game for two seasons. Fielder is very much in his prime at the age of 29, only missing 13 games in the last eight seasons. The Rangers pick up one of the most consistent and durable power hitters in the game, and signed him through 2020. The five-time All-Star will take over first base for Mitch Moreland and allows the Rangers to let go of free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz if the price isn’t right. Fielder also fills a hole in the lineup that Texas was thirsty for after losing Josh Hamilton to Los Angeles. Once again, the big man will help boost the offense around him by creating one very big target that no one wants to pitch to. With Adrian Beltre and company batting around him, there is little doubt his impact will be as big as his waistband.
The Tigers haven’t come out publicly yet and said who instigated the trade or given the reasoning behind it, but there was some friction after they lost the Championship Series last season when the team didn’t feel Fielder was as invested as they would have liked. Fielder was invisible in the 2013 postseason, going 4-22 with no RBI. In addition, FanGraphs estimates that the Fielder deal was the fifth-worst contract in baseball. Whether you agree or not, Detroit needed a financial reprieve, and it is figured they will save roughly $76 million from this deal. No matter the reason, it is still widely believed that Kinsler, with a career .273/.349/.484 line, is overpaid and just better than average at second base. Detroit gains money to build with, but loses serious protection for their MVP, Cabrera.
Texas, on the other hand, is still very much in play for free agent catcher Brian McCann. The Fielder move also indicates that the Rangers may be making a very serious push for second baseman Robinson Cano to replace Kinsler. The Rangers seem to have more options for moving people around since they have an up-and-coming Jurickson Profar and a solid shortstop in Elvis Andrus to still wheel-and-deal.
There are many rumors as to why Fielder has ‘slumped’; some even cite his pending divorce as the reason there was a slight drop-off. Certainly there has been a drop-off since his 46 home run season in 2009, but Fielder is hardly slumping. Power has become rarer in a post-PED world and left-handed power has become harder to find than a solid Nicolas Cage performance. Prince is a joy to be around and is considered a great leader and a tremendous clubhouse player. Not only have the Rangers filled a void left by Josh Hamilton, they have actually upgraded. The pursuit of McCann and Cano will be big news, but the possibility of upgrading a pitching staff, whether it be from the Cardinals, free agency, or even reaching out to Japan, will now be the key to a late season run.
The Los Angeles Angels were a non-factor last year, but you cannot count out a team with that much talent. The Oakland A’s have won the division two years in a row and are being run by a very intelligent and experienced front office. The Seattle Mariners find themselves in a transitional year that will either see the young talent finally blossom or fall even further back in the division. The Houston Astros will be dead last. The Texas Rangers are making a statement that they will be there in the end, that they are the team to beat. Recent history has shown that money alone cannot buy championships, but Texas paid for the right player this time. The Fielder contract is a big one to take on, but the Rangers are hardly struggling as much as Aaron Carter.
Detroit lost a great player and a great person, but the trade as a whole is very fascinating. Blockbuster baseball trades will always be exciting, leaving an entire offseason to speculate what the results will be before we are all ultimately proven right or wrong.