This trade is a great trade for each side for a variety of reasons.
The Rangers get the power bat that they have been missing since Josh Hamilton went cold towards the end of the 2012 season. Now, Prince Fielder was not the same player he had been in his Milwaukee days last year. Prince had his lowest ISO (Isolated Power) and OPS of his career this past season, and he had his lowest wOBA since his rookie season. By almost every statistical measure, Prince Fielder had his worst hitting season as a full time professional. Yet, he was better than the Rangers previous DH, Lance Berkman (6 homers in 294 plate appearances). If the Rangers have Fielder DH and not worry about playing “defense” (Prince cost the Tigers 13 runs this past season… at FIRST BASE), he should be able to stay focused and in enough shape to give the Rangers another 30 homer bat in the middle of that line up. (It is being reported that Prince will play first base. Let it be known I think that is a mistake)
The other bonus to the Rangers trade is Jurickson Profar finally has a full-time spot in the Rangers line up. The 2011 and 2012 top prospect has struggled in his inconsistent MLB playing time in his past two seasons. He has 7 homers and a .274 average in 341 plate appearances. The homers would be good if Profar had the steals to go with them. However, he only has 2… TWO steals in all those plate appearances. Profar has 2 steals in 6 attempts! That’s not going to be valuable for the Rangers if he doesn’t convert more of his stolen base attempts. He should improve in his first full season as a Major Leaguer, but if he doesn’t, this trade could prove to hurt the Rangers in the long run.
The other part of this trade is the money involved. If the trade doesn’t work out and Fielder’s hitting skills continue to deteriorate, the Rangers are paying a lot of money for a mediocre DH. Even with the large influx of money the Rangers will be getting in their new local TV deal, this is could hold them back from being one of the top teams in the MLB in the next couple of seasons.
Clearly, the Rangers side of the trade has some real upside, but has some risks.
While I think the Rangers did improve, I think this trade is so phenomenal for the Tigers. This trade, along with the Cardinals smart deals, makes the Tigers the favorites to face the Cardinals in the World Series. The Tigers still need to fix the bullpen, but they can do that with the money they saved in this trade.
Before this trade, the Tigers were seriously considering moving Max Scherzer. That made a lot of sense. Scherzer is a Scott Boras client, and if he acts as most Boras clients do, he won’t sign an extension until free agency, which will drive up the price. The Tigers wouldn’t have been able to afford him with Fielder on the books through 2020. I think the Tigers do have the money to do that now and that will keep one of the best starting rotations in tack for the foreseeable future.
The Tigers, also, get to move Miguel Cabrera back to first base. There are a lot of bonuses to this. For one, Cabrera cost the Tigers more runs at third base last year than all of the years he played first base for them combined. He will be much more valuable as an actual baseball player (not fantasy asset) at first base. That ends up opening a spot at third base. And guess what?! The Tigers’ best prospect is a third baseman! Nick Castellanos is his name, and he joins Xander Boegarts as a favorite to win the 2014 AL Rookie of the Year award. He does project to be a top notch hitter at the big leagues with around 25-30 homers in his peak years. His .303 batting average and .804 OPS in his time in the minors are a pretty good indication of how good of a hitter he is, considering he has been younger than the average player at each level. Now Castellanos isn’t a Gold Glove defender (40 errors in 210 games at third base in the minors), he should be very serviceable with the slick-fielding Jose Iglesias next to him.
Finally, the Tigers get a new leadoff hitter. I am still bitter about their postseason defeat to the Red Sox when the Tigers out played them the first 5 games of the series, but I digress. One of the struggles the Tigers had, besides the bullpen mentioned earlier, was their leadoff spot. Austin Jackson was at the top of the order the first three games and proceeded to go 1 for 13. Torii Hunter moves into the top spot and moved Miguel Cabrera to the second spot, which made every advanced stat nerd (me included) jump with joy. Hunter did okay by getting on base 4 out of 13 times at the plate, but that’s not a good enough OBP from a leadoff man on a team looking to win a World Series Championship.
Enter Ian Kinsler. A second baseman with a .350 career OBP and can give you 15-20 steals each year. A perfect fit at the top of that line up behind Miguel Cabrera. Look for Kinsler to break the 100 run mark for the 5th time in his career, assuming he manages to stay off the DL. Another added bonus to Ian Kinsler, he can hit ’em out of the park. It won’t be at the same rate as he did in Texas, but he should still be an top notch second base option as the Tigers look to break through and win the World Series for the first time since since 1984.
(30 year anniversary?)