Reevaluating the Ian Kinsler For Prince Fielder Trade
A little over a year ago, the baseball world witnessed a blockbuster trade between two teams, the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers. The deal between the two teams included second baseman Ian Kinsler and first baseman Prince Fielder. The Rangers would send $30 million to the Tigers as well, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo!
Prior to the transaction, Fielder and the Tigers agreed to a nine-year, $214 million contract in the 2013 offseason, essentially locking Fielder up in Detroit. Looking at Kinsler’s contract, Kinsler and the Rangers agreed on a five-year extension worth $75 million, in 2012, making Kinsler, at the time, the highest paid second baseman in Major League Baseball (MLB).
The type of transaction between the Rangers and Tigers have become rare, trading one star for another. At the time, the Tigers looked as a growing empire; stocking high caliber players such as Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Justin Verlander, and now Prince Fielder. With the addition of Fielder, Cabrera was forced to play the hot corner, third base, instead of his natural position, first base.
Fielder spent the 2012-2013 season with Detroit playing in a combined 324 games, two perfect seasons. In addition, Fielder had been consistently hitting 25+ home runs and 100+ RBI. His trade value had been at an all-time high. Kinsler, spending his entire career in Texas, is no dull star when it comes to consistency either. Batting 70+ RBI’s since 2011 and threatening in a variety of aspects, such as base running and fielding.
Both teams have had their share of thoughts on how to, as well as when to, pull the trigger on the deal. The Rangers were finalizing preparations for second baseman prospect Jurickson Profar. The Tigers were content with their offense without Fielder; Cabrera would then move back to his natural position with Fielder’s departure.
Fast forward one year and these two stars remain in a different uniform. Fielder suffered a neck injury and required surgery to fuse the C-5 and C-6 disks in his neck, a similar procedure that quarterback Peyton Manning underwent for an athletic rebirth, according to BleacherReport. Fielder’s minimal impact in his debut season, playing in 42 games, sending the Rangers toward the bottom of the standings in 2014, finishing with the worst record in the American League at 67-95 (.414). To be fair, the blame should not fall on Fielder, but the oragnization as a whole. Remember the Rangers preparing their prospect Profar for the big leagues? Profar has played 94 games since 2012, missing the entirety of the 2014 season with a shoulder injury. Just as things could not have been getting worse for the Rangers, Profar underwent labrum surgery on his shoulder and his expected to miss the 2015 season as well.
Initially Kinsler had a sour taste towards the Rangers due to his departure. In an interview with ESPN, Kinsler stated, “I hope they go 0-162.” Kinsler continued, “I got friends, and I love my friends, but I hope they lose their ass” (ESPN).
Kinsler, in his one season in Detroit, has produced stats we have seen from Kinsler before. 100 runs, 17 home runs, 92 RBI, and a batting average of .275. The Tigers capped the 2014 season as the American League Central champions with a 90-72 record. Their interest for the 2015 season remains to contend in the postseason and perhaps claim the World Series trophy.
The trade, from the perspective of a year later, looks ideally in the favor of the Tigers. Kinsler has stayed healthy and produced in a fashion the Tigers benefited from. As for the Rangers, the absence of Fielder is one asset, but, personally, the absence of Kinsler is a larger dilemma due to Profar’s lack of stability.
During the 2015 season, be sure to look for Fielder to bounce back and provide the Rangers with Fielder-like numbers, but also keep an eye out for Kinsler and company looking to compete for the World Series, yet again.
*All batting/games played statistics via. Baseball-Reference.com