Tigers, Rangers complete Fielder-Kinsler deal

The Tigers went into the offseason needing to solve second base for 2014, but needing to solve payroll concerns for well beyond that. They’re solving both needs in one incredibly big, yet beautifully simple move.

It’s a 1-for-1 deal, but with Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler, the Tigers and Rangers pulled off a blockbuster that changes the course of both teams for years to come.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and MLB Network first reported the talks Thursday evening, followed by an agreement soon after. Considering how swiftly the Tigers’ free-agent contract with Fielder came together, maybe it’s fitting. News of the trade even caught Tigers players off-guard.

“Wow!!! Big news,” Justin Verlander tweeted Thursday night. “We traded Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler.”

The Tigers will send $30 million to Texas, according to a source, to help bridge the gap in money remaining on the two contracts. Fielder has seven years left at $24 million each on the mega-contract he signed in January 2012, barely a week after Victor Martinez’s catastrophic knee injury left Detroit in desperate need of offense and left owner Mike Ilitch aggressively looking to fill Martinez’s void. Kinsler, by contrast, has five years and $69 million total left on his deal if his $12 million club option for 2018 is included.

After all this, the biggest task will be the Tigers re-adjusting the rest of their roster in turn. It’ll lose a huge power presence in the cleanup spot, but recover the kind of financial flexibility that will put the Tigers back in control of their long-term destiny.

The Tigers had a dream offensive lineup in 2013 with Fielder at first base, Miguel Cabrera at third and Victor Martinez as the designated hitter. But while the offense put up mighty numbers over the course of the season, the game-to-game results weren’t consistent. That inconsistency came back to bite them in the postseason, when a series of low-scoring duels put pressure on Detroit’s vaunted rotation and not-so-solid bullpen to hold slim leads.

Fielder, fairly or otherwise, became the flashpoint for that. For most players, his .279 average, 25 home runs and 106 RBIs would’ve been a good season. After a .313 average, 30-homer debut season in Detroit, however, a 121-point drop in OPS stood out. His deep struggles in the postseason, followed by his comments after the dramatic ALCS Game 6 loss that eliminated them from the postseason,

The biggest pressures on the Tigers, however, were the financial stats. With Fielder’s contract, Justin Verlander’s recently-signed deal, Max Scherzer and Victor Martinez a year away from free agency and two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera among a handful of prominent Tigers up for free agency in two years, Detroit’s long-term payroll looked like an unsolvable puzzle.

Trading Fielder, even with the offensive gap it creates, became the solution, which is surely why talks came together quickly.

With first base open, the Tigers have the option of moving Cabrera back to first, where he played his first four seasons in Detroit before Fielder’s arrival, or moving Martinez out from designated hitter. Top prospect Nick Castellanos, who was slated to compete for a spot in left field, is an option to move back to his original position at third. Or the Tigers could

The payroll, meanwhile, now has a lot more flexibility to consider contract extensions for Cabrera and Scherzer. Detroit could save as much as $8 million in each of the next two seasons, and more after that, depending on how the money is spread out.

Kinsler has been a mainstay at second base in Texas, and at age 31 should remain so. With the Rangers enjoying an embarrassment of riches in young infielders, however, Kinsler was expendable. And with the Rangers desperately looking for offense, by all accounts, Fielder was an attractive bat.

The Rangers were an option for Fielder as a free agent two years ago, and carried the bonus of no state income tax. Now, the prospect of Fielder regaining his power bat in a much more power-friendly park looms for American League opponents.

75 Comments

Well what do you think guys. I love the move. Not because im a prince hater. But because it was a smart move. Better infield defense. Less injury risk for cabbie with him moving back to 1st. Now you have the option of signing a left fielder or a 3rd baseman. And most importantly we got out of one of the worst contracts ever. I could go on forever. Welcome to detroit ian kinsler. Farewell prince. Good luck in texas. Cant wait to see how the rest of the season plays out and im already counting the days to spring. GO TIGERS!

WOW!!! Kinsler more speed? Lead-off man? Pressure off AJ? Where does that leave Infante? Is NC a good fielding 3rd baseman? Peralta at 3rd? Looks like we have something to chat about.

Fielding: Still learning positioning and footwork after moving from shortstop after signing. Footwork frequently gets messy and can hamper ability to get to some balls and cause throws to lose accuracy. Has solid hands and enough lateral quickness to stick at the position. Needs lots of repetitions. Occasional scout believes he is destined for left field. Should be given chance to play the position and play himself off it, if necessary. May never exceed fringe-average defensive ability. Grade – 30/50

http://baseballprospectnation.com/2012/05/23/scouting-report-nick-castellanos-3b/

All the best to Prince in Texas. I know he had a lot of personal problems hampering him this season, but no one can blame just him for the playoff slumps. I like Kinsler, although I will miss Infante who I’m sure will sign a monster deal with some one. Castellanos wasn’t the best defensively in West Michigan, but was getting better though his time with Erie before moving to the outfield. I’m sure he’ll get plenty of time there this spring, and trial by fire during the season. They need to sign a quality lefty bat for LF, though, to hit in the five spot. At least they’ll have some money now for that, hopefully Max, and to get bullpen help they need.

http://minoringinbaseball.com/

A closer
A couple of LH relievers
Extend Fister and Cabrera
Jackson is also a Boras client so looking for another CF and moving him to LF could be in an option too

Kindler stole 15 bags last year was caught I believe 11 times. From what I okay he is merely an average defender nothing special. Sorry I’m not against it but the only real advantage I see is the payroll advantage.

And keeping Miguel healthy. it was Fielder or Miguel. There is no way Miguel plays a full season at 3b ever again.
There were three options: trading him, making him a DH( and trading Martinez) or trading Cabrera. The status quo was not an option
The stolen bases? I stick to my support of JL´s strategy, no steals if that means taking away the bat from Miguel.

Kinsler might not be above average D in detroit, but he certainly has played above average D in texas. Exciting to think about the 3B/LF we likely need now.

Morosi goes with us, Kinsler to 3b and Perez to 2B. Could be the other way and keep Nick at LF with Dirks

Jason is going on MLB Network in about 2 minutes.

Jason is so tactful. I’ll be hones, though. This trade kind of bums me out. I wanted it to work out and we will miss his power. Shame about the divorce.

I like the trade. I never thought we would be able to get out from under it. At times we will miss Prince’s threat of power, but we will not miss his power. Because the power had dried up. He hit something like 7 HR in the first 3 weeks or so last year and only 18 after that. That is not good enough for 22M.
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IMO, 3B needs to go to NC. It is time. Even before Prince was signed, 2014 was always the year pointed to for NC to break in. Some of the RBIs lost will come from him. The Tigers are good a breaking in a kid or two every year and still remain competitive. It is NC’s turn. Hopefully, the defense will come. Remember, we have Visquel here to help with that. It is time for NC to go from prospect to major leaguer. Now that 3B is open, I would rather NC be there. Platooning in LF and playing twice a week will do him no good. He needs to play everyday and get his reps in. He will make his adjustments. He will hit at the Major League level.
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Extend Miggy and Max. Fix the bullpen and upgrade LF and I can live with AA behind the plate because it is obvious the pitchers are very comfortable with him. Maybe McCann is the kid who is breaking in for 2015.
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Bravo, DD. Keep working.
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Go Tigers.
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— Bob

Thanks Bob for writing most of my post. To add, Kinsler, when fully healthy, stole 31 bases one year and caught 5 times. Stole 30 another year and caught 4 times. He will hit 20 home runs and drive in 80. Victor will get more rbi. Nick will get many rbi. RBI is another deceiving stat. How about game winning rbi. Good luck Prince, I like you. Welcome Ian, I like you. Go Tigers, 2014. P.S. we don’t need a FA 3rd sacker.

reckon we could always pick a 3B up at the deadline if it doesn’t work out

who is more “MLB ready” Perez at 2B or Nick at 3B?

It is unknown but the potential is higher with NC. Now that Kinsler is here for 4 years, I suspect Perez becomes the prospect DD includes in any package to upgrade LF or the BP. Or Perez is the piece that is traded next August at the deadline to sure up the needs at that time.
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Don’t be surprised if they look at Choo now. Probably a longshot. Tori comes off the books after this year and Ajax is a Boras client and may be gone in two years. DD is very good at working his roster flexibility.
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It is important to point out that all teams will gain an extra 25M this year from the new TV deal. The money is there, but no more 9 yr contracts.

— Bob

You think they’d trade Hernan? Who will be the bench players?

TBD. Just like NC, I don’t think it serves Perez any good to be sitting on a bench watching at his age. Bench players should be veterans who understand the role. Like Brayan Pena, who I am sad they let go. I love Andy, but I am starting to believe he is a 4th outfielder (but a very good 4th outfielder). The bench will sort itself out. It is not as imperative in the AL because PH are used less.
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— Bob

He’s probably not going to steal 30 again and frankly I care more about the ability to take the extra base via going from 1st to 3rd and from 2nd to home. That part is going to get better. The finances will be better. But as I’ve said between Peralta and Fielder that’s a lot of RBIs that are gone. And Castellanos and Iglesias are not going to make that up. You can’t think of Ian replacing Fielder and even their rbi’s are much different. Kinsler is a replacement for infante which is good. But there is a couple of major holes now that need to be addressed.

Kinsler – 72 RBI last two years. Fielder – 108 & 106 last two years. That is “much different”?

Hey Evan go get a picture of the Detroit Depth Chart.

donny kelly BABY! He’s slotted for 5 positions.

If you go to the Tigers’ website, Santiago isn’t even listed on the chart, but Kelly is.

Santiago is a free agent

forgot about that.

34 rbi’s is a big difference. Kinsler is not a replacement for Prince he is Omar’s replacement which is a good replacement. You still need to replace Princes rbi’s and Peralta’s. Iglesias is not going to drive in 70 plus rbi’s that Peralta did. He maybe will get 40 maybe. He will provide other things though. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to replace that offense. And please don’t discount the protection that Prince provided for Miggy. I’m not hating on it but just don’t think it’s that simple. We had two pitchers with career years are they going to be any better, so you still need offense.

Of course Kinsler did not have the same RBIs. He hit lead off. Some of the RBIs will come from Ajax moving down in the order. If Ajax can just relax, I think he can produce some 70 or 80 RBIs from the 6th or 7th spot. A lot of this hinges on what they do in LF. Runs and RBIs can be misleading. The Tigers were among the top teams in runs scored last year and in average. But would anyone on here really consider them a “great offense”. No, because it was inconsistent. Winning 9-3 today and losing 2-1 tomorrow is not a good offense. RBIs matter when the game is close not when you hit a 3 run homer in the 9th of 10-2 game. And Fielder’s RBIs were not clutch, especially in the 2nd half and 0 in the postseason. How can the cleanup hitter go 18 straight post season games without an RBI.
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DD will figure out how to put this together. We don’t need to match the RBIs, we just need to score runs more consistently and in close games.
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— Bob

Might not to “match” the RBIs, but we need to add another “bat” — we just lost OI, JP and PF for christ’s sake. What are the chances Hunter hits better than last year? Much better than the chances Alex has a “on year” at the plate!!

I mean NOT much better than alex’s chances…. sorry

I don’t think DD is done. But NC can be part of the solution too. Yes, he is unknown. But every major league star started out as an unknown before their opportunity. He could flame out. The history of baseball is filled with those also. But if you decided that Garcia was the guy to trade and NC was the guy to keep, at some point you have to find out what you have. This is that year.
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There is no negative in this trade. The PF contract was looking like it was going to be an albatross for years. And DD got himself out from under it. This trade helps even more in 2016-2021 as well.
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— Bob

There are alot of positives: Fielder’s consecutive game streak is gone providing more flexibility at 1st & DH, Ausmus knows Kinsler well, they were teammates, Kinsler is a type “A” player & sparkplug, leadoff bat is settled, If Miggy agrees to move back to 1st it opens up 3rd for Nick or another acquisition/trade. Also, we parted ways with 1 of the poorest or slowest baserunners! Hope we get a closer next.

aaaaand we resigned coke. FML because even if we can cut him — it means DD is considering him a possibility….whether it’s 25% or 80% chance that DD thinks Coke with contribute…..it just sucks DD can’t go find someone 95% of the fan base can have confidence in.

we don’t want Veras back for 4MM – but Coke for 2MM —- heck yea come on down!

If Coke does not show he has regained any form in ST, he will be Brennan Boesch’ed by the date to only eat like 1/6 the contract. Not a lot of risk here … yet.
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— Bob

it’s not the financial risk it’s the spot on the roster —– said another way it’s the “hope he comes back to form” instead of “go get someone else who can do the job”…..

Fantastic points about the RBI, Bob. Prince is probably one of the greatest friends/teammate out there, but over the two years I watched him in Detroit there was no motivation to be a better player. Thanks Prince, welcome Ian!

‘no motivation to be a better player’…how does a fan know such things? i believe it’s unknowable unless a person regularly spends time with the team and observes how they prepare. to make this assertion without knowing a player’s work habits is presumptuous.

This is the most important day in Tiger History since the we got Miggy.
Full on Kudos to DD for pulling this one off. For taking a situation where we had to be resigned to to accepting as enormously problematic and a brick wall opposing player development and good use of personnel.
There is the fact that a LHB will be needed in LF or perhaps at 3B (Headley, Seager?). We can forget Bruce, Cargo or Alvarez but keep in mind that beside Ellsbury (who is less likely now) there are still Choo, Granderson; and how about Dominic Brown, Ibanez, Wil Venable or (grit your teeth) Colby Rasmus?
Can’t see the negative in this trade at all. Kinsler is as dynamite a player you can get this side Pedroia. We can watch him steal 3rd this year—won’t that be a nice switch.
I hope Prince gets himself together again on the ball field but he was going to have a rough time in Motown.

you view this trade as more important than the deal for Scherzer?

Seems to me you pretty much have to bat Ian lead-off. AJ is not a definitive lead-off guy and showed he can hit down in the order when alleviated of that obligation and pressure. He might benefit from batting 2nd though. Instead of Torii getting those fastballs maybe AJ can turn on them or whack them to RF. Maybe Torii can be the 5th or 6th man and provide some Rib-Eyes like he used to?
Got to keep an eye on Daniel Fields this year. Will he be the LHB we need in 2015?
Still like the idea of Colby Rasmus.

Rasmus…the guy who couldn’t get along with LaRussa…the guy who took out Infante with a bush league slide into 2nd?

yea him – bring him to detroit for an interview – and just say he got lost. :p

If the issue is replacing Prince’s 106 RBI, there is this: batting behind Cabrera in 2011, Victor Martinez drove in 103 runs. Batting behind Prince last year, Victor drove in 83. So the 106 is replaced already, you just need someone to drive in 83. What halfway decent hitter can’t drive in 83 runs in the middle of the lineup?
Just throwing that into a discussion I see as a non-issue. Actually, Victor is far and away a more dangerous hitter than Prince.

#Tigers agreed to a non-guaranteed, $1.9M 1-year deal with LHP Phil Coke, avoiding arbitration. Bonuses for appearing in 60, 65, 70 games.

foolish to think he will bounce back to the form of 3 years ago. Even if you can cut him it’s a roster spot it’s time in ST. it’s insane.

A non-guaranteed means not even 1/6 if I understand correctly

i’m sure it is. but again, it’s not the money it’s the “hoping and dreaming” driving me nuts

This deal has the potential added benefit of burying the Los Angeles Angels of Cucamonga in the bottom half of the AL West standings.

Yes that Colby Rasmus. Rasmus can go get in the OF. He plays hard, as evidenced by the (I still say it was dirty) hard slide. Many players defended him, however, saying it was not a deliberate attempt to injure or an illegitimate play.
Regardless, he brings speed, defense and surprisingly incredible power (at times) from the left side of the plate.

In addition to the hated Rasmus maybe we can get Grant Balfour here and Hawk Harrelson to help broadcast in the booth too!!!
I guess we now know why DD protected Lennerton yesterday.

We can also get:
Brett Gardner
Kevin Youkilis
the Weaver brothers
Carlos Gomez
Asdrubal Cabrera
!

hey i’ll take Youk – – it’s been long enough and he can rake

you’ve gone too far Dan

Not nearly as far as Rich!!! Good ones Amigo. I actually forgot about Weaver.

mike valenti says if you take the 76MM you save from Prince….you can sign Beltran and Nathan. Beltran a better option since he’ll only need 2-3 years (as opposed to choo and ellsbury)

I like it. If they can put an established hitter in left, it will make it easier to break NC in. With two older guys in the corner outfield spots, Andy will still get his fair share of games as the older guys get some blows.
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— Bob

it makes a lot of sense…giving you a bench of Dirks, Holladay, Perez and maybe some big bat or a super utility player like don kelly. heck just make it don kelly.

I have a feeling that joe nathan will be our closer. Hes probably gonna wait out the market a lil bit but im sure he will be closing games for us come spring. And if not him then brian wilson. It will be one of those two but i think nathan has a higher chance than wilson.

NC was interviewed on XM and said he hopes to be at 3rd opening day.

Tigers hearing offers for Jackson.Nightingale.

As expected, he is a Boras client so he cant be extended .And they could fill the void with Choo or Elsbury ( both Boras clients)

which will both require 100MM contracts….and ellsbury is constantly hurt

It’s not that these guys wouldn’t get you closer to a WS – that i’ll agree with whole heartedly. But Choo, Ellsbury are both gunna be questionable contracts….and to be fair, so is extending Scherzer.
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I say get Beltran, Nathan a few other arms and extend Cabby. Call it an offseason.

Do you know Beltran had some issues with the Mets and Kansas? He is the contract player poster child.
Used to be injured. He was separated at birth form Ellsbury
His agent is Boras too .

“I think (talk of Cabrera moving is) still premature. I’m not completely sure about that,” Leyland said????
Sorry but that is delusion and denial

That’s classic Leyland. Every decision to be made is premature to him. If he was still manager, Cabrera would move back to firstbase along about June 15th.

this is true.

Beck already answered to this tweet but:
“Fielder, I was told tonight, didn’t like hitting at Comerica Park, which is so big in center and right center. He’ll love his new home”

“A Prince Fielder spray chart comparing 2010-11 at Miller to 2012-13 at Comerica. Looks like he lost oppo-field power pic.twitter.com/hO0mCrKIbH ”
retweeted by Beck

Prince said that?

No, Tim Kurkjian reported that ( hearsay?)
@Kurkjian_ESPN
@msimonespn provided the evidence of the lost of opposite field power

I looked at that twitter pic of his spray chart…..it shows miller park and Comerica having the exact same dimensions that’s not possible right?

http://www.hittrackeronline.com/ballpark_overlay.php

Reading the original tweets it seems he is using a kind of standard park model

Ken Rosenthal ‏@Ken_Rosenthal
Source: #Rangers remain open to trading Andrus or Profar in right deal. So, talks with #STLCards or for #Rays’ Price still possible.
a 3B too?

If you put Nick Castellanos at 3B, what do you project his stats to be? At AAA he played 134 games, hit 18 homers, drove in 76 and scored 81. I think he hit .275. I like Jhonny but he had a career year at the plate. I think Rich would have a bunch of rbi if he hit behind Miggy!

is Rich a RHB or LHB?

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