So far this MLB off-season has been pretty- OH MY GOSH PRINCE FIELDER HAS BEEN TRADED TO THE RANGERS. What a crazy deal!
The Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers have made the deal official that would send 1B Prince Fielder (plus $30-million) to the Rangers for 2B Ian Kinsler. I never would have guessed that Kinsler, who has been rumoured to being traded for a while now, would have been moved to the Tigers! And of all people Prince Fielder, who just last off-season signed that massive 9-year, $214-million. I like this trade for both teams (SLIGHT edge to Detroit) for many different reasons.
1. Both Texas and Detroit are filling different needs.
Detroit can now slot Miguel Cabrera over to 1B. This is much better for Detroit’s infield defense as Cabrera, Fielder and Infante combined for a -3.7 DWAR last season (Fielder being a -2.2). According to Baseball Info Solutions, Cabrera and Fielder had combined to cost the Tigers 31 runs last year relative to an average fielder, showing just how bad their defense was. Trading for Kinsler has helped their defense immensely.
Texas is getting a power-bat they desperately need. While Fielder may be showing declining stats (his ISO power VS. RHP’s has declined the past three years) he can still smack a ball out of the park, hitting 25 home-runs in 2013 (his lowest in a full-season). Fielder is only 29 and even if he is heavy could produce for a very long time (COUGH David Ortiz COUGH). If Cruz doesn’t return to the Rangers Fielder will help fill the void lost by him.
2. Detroit has saved some money, and can now resign Scherzer.
It’s not too often teams look to trade their reigning Cy Young winner (except, y’know, the Mets and Dickey, who is still the best) but that is what it seemed like the Tigers may have to do, as they really couldn’t afford to keep him. Now that Fielder’s massive contract is gone, they’ve set themselves up well to keep Scherzer. Having a 1-2-3 punch of Verlander, Scherzer and Sanchez for the next 4+ years could be scary in the playoffs, as they’ve already shown.
3. Texas had options for 2B.
Texas was able to trade away Kinsler because they had the highest ranked prospect in the MLB, Jurickson Profar. Profar is only 20 years old (one year older than me, holy depressing Batman) and seems to be a cornerstone in the Rangers lineup for the upcoming years. While Profar only put up a lowly 0.1 WAR last year, he will grow and showed in AA / AAA he can hit for around .270 AVG with some pop and speed.
However both players showed last year that they do not seem to be the same players they once were. Fielder’s OBP fell drastically from .412 to .362, as did his AVG and HR total. His K’s also increased from 84 to 117 and his BB’s fell from 85 to 75. While some may attribute this decline to his weight issues, it could also be linked to the struggles he had to endure this past year with his divorce. Either way a new scenery should help Fielder bounce back.
Kinsler has also had his own HR woes since 2011, falling from 32 to 19 to 13 last year. Kinsler however did post better numbers in 2013 than he did in 2012, showing an increase in AVG, OPB and WAR. If Kinsler can show that he’s still a speedy, power hitting 2B then Detroit will win this trade hands-down in my eyes.
Finally, an interesting thought from Joel Sherman:
That would certainly clear enough room to sign one or two major free-agents. The Fielder-for-Kinsler swap and signing Fielder last off-season showed that Dombrowski has guts when it comes to making a major splash.