by Will Overton
It’s official, the offseason is off and running as we had our first blockbuster trade of the offseason, not even a month after the world series ended. As was first reported by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, The Detroit Tigers have traded Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler.
The motives for both teams seem pretty clear cut. The Rangers needed another big power bat and Prince more than fits that bill. They also needed to find a way to open an everyday spot on the field for Jurickson Profar which they now have at second base. For the Tigers it’s a lot about the money and a a good bit about the fact that they desperately needed a leadoff hitter.
On the Rangers side and Prince Fielder, you have to like the move from a fantasy perspective. Prince had his two lowest HR totals since his rookie year while playing for the Tigers. While it was nice to have him hitting behind Miguel Cabrera, Comerica Park was doing his power numbers no favors. Meanwhile there are few parks more friendly to power hitters than the Ballpark in Arlington. And while the Rangers may not have Miguel Cabrera to hit in front of Fielder, they have plenty of offensive firepower and Prince should continue to see good pitches with guys in scoring position often.
The long reaching effect for the Rangers from a fantasy perspective is the fact that Profar now will play everyday. While Profar only hit .234 last year in 286 AB’s, it was still pretty clear he was ready for the big leagues and he has the potential to be a fantasy force. Profar actually has a power/speed combo similar to Ian Kinsler’s was in his prime. He isn’t there yet, but he should be a regular 20/20 guy in a year or two. For this year he’ll be one of the more alluring risk/reward types to tempt you on draft day.
On the Tigers side you have Ian Kinsler who has been pretty clearly declining the last couple years. Oncr a 30/30 hitter, Kinsler had just 13 HR’s and 15 SB’s last season, though he did miss 25 games, it was clearly a step backwards. Going from Arlington to Comerica won’t help his power numbers, but he’ll still get a ton of extra base hits in that spacious park in Detroit. He’ll also be hitting leadoff still and we’ve seen how many runs even a subpar leadoff hitter like Austin Jackson can get in that lineup. Kinsler is on the decline, but he’s only 31, so it’s not exactly time to retire him from fantasy relevance. He’ll still likely be a top five second basemen.
The hole created in Detroit is likely going to be at third base. I assume Miguel Cabrera moves to first base where he belongs now, another motive for the Tigers to make this trade. The Tigers could wind up signing a third baseman, but there are a couple in house options. The Tigers number most touted prospect is Nick Castellanos, a third baseman by nature that they have tried to turn into an outfielder because third base was occupied. I’m not sure he’s ready yet, but the Tigers might give him a chance. The other obvious option would be to resign Jhonny Peralta who used to play third base in Cleveland. Peralta looked great in the playoffs and it might be the motivation the Tigers need to bring him back.
Ultimately I think Prince moves up a few spots here while Kinsler loses a little value, but not anything real significant. The guys to really watch are probably the hot shot prospects in Profar and Castellanos who may have just had their doors opened.