CHICAGO, November 20, 2013 — In a stunning move that will have a huge impact on the 2014 AL pennant, the Texas Rangers have traded Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers for Prince Fielder and $30 million, according to CBSSports.com. The physicals in the deal are still pending, but this greatly impacts two teams that will likely be predicted to make the playoffs next year.
The Tigers lost in the ALCS despite getting amazing pitching performances from their staff in almost every game of that series. Prince Fielder struggled in the playoffs going just 4 for 22 in the ALCS and 9 for 40 in the playoffs. The 2013 Tigers scored the second most runs in the AL while allowing the fewest runs in the league. There will likely be some drop off in their total runs scored with Fielder out of the lineup, but Kinsler is no slouch at the plate.
Ian Kinsler posted a .277/.344/.413 slash line last year and will replace free agent Omar Infante at second base. The move should allow Miguel Cabrera to move back to first base, which will hopefully allow him to avoid the injuries that hampered him late in the year.
Moving Cabrera would likely mean that the Tigers will either move prospect Nick Castellanos back to third base, after he spent 2013 working in the outfield, or look to make another move. This year’s third base free agent crop appears to be very thin with players like Juan Uribe, Kevin Youkilis and Michael Young as some of the headliners, which means the Tigers may look to make a trade for someone like Boston’s Will Middlebrooks.
Shedding the remainder of Fielder’s contract, seven more years and $168 million, may also enable the Tigers to seriously explore re-signing Max Scherzer who will be a free agent after 2014.
The Rangers lost in Game 163 to the Tampa Bay Rays failing to make the ALDS for the second straight year. One of the decisions facing GM Jon Daniels this offseason was to clear their logjam in the middle infield. Daniels has solved that issue less than a month into the off season.
Trading Kinsler allows the Rangers to slot Jurickson Profar into second base. Profar entered last season as one of the top prospects in baseball, but struggled to settle in. With a spot opened up, the Rangers hope that Profar can fulfill the promise he showed in the minors in 2012. If he does, the loss of Kinsler could be minimized.
The major upgrade for the Rangers will be at first base where Fielder and his .279/.362/.457 2013 slash line will replace Mitch Moreland. Moreland has been league average during his four year career posting a career OPS+ of 100. Fielder suffered an off year, by his standards, in 2013, which many have attributed to off field issues. If he can regain the form he had in 2012 when he posted a .313/.412/.528 line and 158 OPS+, the Rangers could very well have found the bat the middle of their order had missed since the departure of Josh Hamilton.
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