Kinsler for Fielder: The Perfect Trade That No One Saw Coming
Both the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers benefited from the Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler swap.
In a trade that came completely out of nowhere, both teams filled gaping holes and allowed for pieces of their roster to fall into place.
How Texas benefits:
With Nelson Cruz set to leave via free agency, Prince Fielder will take his place as a power hitter in the middle of the Rangers' lineup. Fielder will likely play a lot of first base, but can also fill in as a DH, which will allow for the defensively superior Mitch Moreland to still play the field.
Coming off of a disappointing 2013 campaign, Fielder will thrive in the jet-stream-infested home-run haven that is Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Trading Kinsler frees up a lineup slot for former top prospect Jurickson Profar. With everyday at-bats and another year of experience, Profar should find his way in the majors in 2014.
How Detroit benefits:
Although the Tigers (especially Miggy) will definitely miss Fielder's bat in that formidable lineup, this trade makes the defending AL Central champs more versatile.
Kinsler should slide right into the front of that order, alongside Austin Jackson, likely followed by Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter. Kinsler, Jackson and Hunter can all bat in the 1, 2, 3 or 5 spots, giving rookie manager Brad Ausmus many options when filling out his lineup card.
Miggy will move back to his natural position of first base, which will likely make him less susceptible to injuries and keep him in the lineup for as many games as possible.
Kinsler, an average defender, at worst, fills a huge hole at second base, a spot that projected Hernan Perez to receive most of the starts. Who? Exactly.
Now, the Tigers don't have to spend any money on a second baseman in free agency, and can look towards a veteran third baseman, such as Eric Chavez, Kevin Youkilis or Michael Young. Prospect Nick Castellanos could even end up taking over the hot corner by mid-season.
Finally, the Tigers are also freed of Fielder's $168 million contract over the next seven years, which may help them keep reigning AL Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer long-term.
Kinsler is only scheduled to make $62 million over the next four seasons.
It's a safe trade for the Tigers. They free up money and move their superstar into a more comfortable situation.
It's a bit of a risk for the Rangers. But it's one that needed to be made. Who knows what the extra money spent on Fielder would have brought in, or what Andrus/Profar could have brought in via a trade, but they do know what they're getting in Prince Fielder. Texas had the money. They had the middle infield depth. With this trade, they get the power hitter they were looking for.
While the impact this trade will have on the two players, the two teams and the entire American League obviously still remains to be seen, on paper, it makes a ton of sense.
Which begs the question: Why didn't anybody see it coming?