I was sitting in the youth room of our church, beginning the lesson to our High School and Middle School kids. My phone and iPad were in front of me with notes and talking points. All of a sudden they blow up…BOOM!
I shamelessly admit that I got distracted, but luckily my partner was able to wrap up and lead into a video. Side note, the Matt Garza trade happened while I was in the middle of a 750-meter swim, and the Alex Rios deal happened during a nap. Therefore, in case Jon Daniels is reading this, please allow me a little more heads up.
I have written, on numerous occasions, about the stealth of Jon Daniels and his staff (Super Friends), and have talked extensively about the “rumors” that are leaked out of this front office.
There are two types: the writer attempting to connect the dots and shoot in the dark, and those that are leaked on purpose just to see the reaction. But this trade, this challenge trade, this BLOCKBUSTER trade, takes all of that to a new level.
The facts as we know them are that this was simply a 1-for-1 trade, Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler with cash considerations. Fielder is owed $168MM over the next seven seasons, and Kinsler is owed $62MM over the next four seasons, which also includes an option buyout.
The Tigers, who needed to address their middle infield this offseason, also wanted some payroll flexibility, and should consider reuniting Miguel Cabrera with the other corner infield spot. After all, they have a 22-year-old third base prospect in Nick Castellanos, who has a high-ceiling. Can you address four needs in one move? Dave Dombrowski says yes.
The Rangers have needed to upgrade first base for a couple years; please don’t say Chris Davis, that’s another conversation for another day.
Texas also had a double-tier logjam in the middle infield with longest-tenured Ranger Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, and Jurickson Profar, who is considered baseball’s #1 prospect. Soon the average fan will begin to incorporate Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor into their baseball vocabulary.
Finally, the Tigers will be sending the Rangers $30 million to help cover Fielder’s contract. Not with a check up front, but $6 million in each of the final five years of his contract.
Before breaking it down, I will give my standing line that you can never judge a trade until at least 2-3 years go by. At the time, Josh Hamilton for Edinson Volquez seemed almost fair, but over the preceding four years it was proven to be incredibly one-sided in the Rangers favor.
Ian Kinsler isn’t getting a bad deal here. He is leaving the only franchise he has ever known, but he joins a team that has played for three-straight AL Pennants, and he’ll likely bat in front of Torii Hunter and Cabrera.
Kinsler, the highest-paid second baseman in baseball, has had back-to-back “down” or disappointing seasons. At some point “down year” becomes less of bad luck and more of a trend.
Kinsler is still a very good second baseman, and Tiger fans will enjoy the way he plays the game. But with the money left on his contract, and the Rangers logjam in the middle infield, this move makes more sense than dealing Profar or Andrus.
Fielder is also coming off a “down year,” has a longer contract, and is owed more money. However, he has already had a successful bounce back year.
In 2010, Prince had his first “down year” when he hit .261, had a .401 on-base percentage, 32 homers, a meager 83 RBI and walked 114 times. He bounced back the next year, hitting .299 with 38 bombs, and 120 RBI.
I know how potent the Tigers offense was this year, but the Rangers are working to get that production back for 2014.
After playing the last two seasons at Comerica Park, Fielder will now play half of his games in a park tailor made for his power. After all, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington has an infamous jet stream to right-center, and a short right field porch.
I fully expect Kinsler to be both productive and helpful for an already potent Tigers offense, but I do see the decline coming quicker than expected. I can also see Fielder’s bat will be a huge addition to an anemic Rangers offense, but the DH role is always there should his body continue to give him problems.
The Rangers and Tigers have started things off this offseason with what could be the biggest bang of the entire winter, and the calendar doesn’t even say December yet.