The talk of the Major League Baseball offseason thus far has been the swap of Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler between the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers. It took the baseball world completely by surprise, and represents what could be just the beginning in a very busy trading season this winter.
The overall sentiment around the league since the deal took place last week seems to be the fact that the Rangers lost out in this deal. They lose a player like Ian Kinsler, who provides plus defense even if his offensive abilities have declined a bit in the last couple of years. Not only that, but they take on an absolutely massive contract, which even the $30 million that they took from Detroit as part of the deal makes tough to rationalize.
There’s no doubt that each of these statements are true. However, in taking on Prince Fielder, the Rangers don’t lose this trade nearly as much as folks are thinking. Perhaps from a financial standpoint you could make that argument. From a personnel standpoint, this team is very much a threat to finally capture a World Series title in 2014 with Fielder now in the mix.
Yes, the Rangers do lose Ian Kinsler. There was a chance that was going to happen at some point this winter, regardless. With Jurickson Profar waiting in the wings, it was either trade the 31-year-old Kinsler, or move the 20-year-old with massive upside. Or move Elvis Andrus. The Rangers moved Kinsler and in doing so, still have a potentially dynamite middle infield combo with Profar and Andrus.
As far as Fielder is concerned, he is coming off of a down year. That much is true. His 25 home runs were the lowest total of his career, and his slash line of .279/.362/.457/.819, while solid, represented some of the lowest figures he’s posted in quite some time. Making the move to Texas should benefit him, and the power could very well be restored heading into the 2014 season. Now they do lose something in the field, as Fielder’s defensive WAR is deep in the negative for his career, but the offense he brings to the table should easily outweigh whatever shortcomings he has with the glove.
The monetary aspect of this seems to be at least somewhat overblown. Yes, Fielder’s contract is awful. But the Rangers can afford it. The fact that folks are still connecting them to Robinson Cano after this deal, assuming they were to trade Profar or Andrus, illustrates how true this is. If Prince can return to his old form, then this deal will absolutely work out just fine for the Rangers.
This isn’t to say that the Rangers won this trade in any sort of runaway. From a financial standpoint, they lost. But they can handle it. From a personnel standpoint, however, this is a trade where two teams got what they sought, and it should work out for each of them. It’ll be interesting to see as we move forward, though, who truly takes the ‘W’ in this deal, presumably by getting over that World Series hump first.