As CBSSports.com reports, Ian Kinsler has been traded to the Tigers for Prince Fielder. An interesting web of bloodlines means that I follow the Tigers extremely closely. When I say that Prince Fielder’s contract is one 98% of Tigers fans would love to get rid of, that really isn’t an exaggeration. It honestly in three years or so will be a complete disaster. In the mean time, the Rangers will have a potentially great first baseman.
I say potentially because Fielder came off of a season in which he was merely above-average. For a player with a 20m+ contract every year, that is more than a bit of a concern. Much of the year he just didn’t look right. Comerica Park is also huge and he hit a ton of warning track shots, so in Arlington it wouldn’t shock me at all to see him hit above 30 bombs again. But he is also an extremely limited player. Defensively, he is an awful first baseman (though he does make the rare athletic play). His strikeout rate also jumped last year almost 33%– which is still less than his career average. Basically, 2012 Prince Fielder was probably his at-bat peak. In other words, his OBP will probably never come close to what he did that year. But he does provide a legitimate 30 HR bat and does walk, a combination harder and harder to find as power drains out of the game.
For the Rangers:
They finally get a middle-of-the-order bat that complements Adrian Beltre. Beltre, like Cabrera, will probably move to third in the lineup with Fielder taking his former spot. Jurickson Profar will move to second and take Kinsler’s spot. The Rangers also absorb (likely– hasn’t been reported whether or not the deal includes money coming the Ranger’s way) a hefty salary and a practically bat-only player. But what a bat.
For the Tigers:
They finally get a long-term second baseman and get rid of a contract that was going to pose a real problem moving forward. They also get Cabrera off the hot corner. Nick Castellanos will probably take his place. The Tigers also open hole in left field (which was never fully closed to begin with).
There may be other players in the deal. The report has no information on that. The Tigers desperately need a bullpen piece, so one may be included. Money, as I alluded to earlier, may also be in play.
The Rangers are getting 30 million back. While I’m skeptical that Fielder will be even an average player the last two years or so of the deal, he should be a steal for the first four, with the fifth as a transition year. The 30 million back means the Rangers pay Fielder 138 million dollars. In other words, they are getting a dynamite bat for less than 20 million a year. Before they would pay 24. I do think he will rebound in Texas, partly because of the stadium but also because his career averages are slightly higher than what he posted last year. I predict .280/.380/.500, which is basically the same projection given by Fangraph’s Steamer. 30-35 home runs sounds about right as well.