Jon Heyman of CBS Sports was the first to report late Wednesday that the Texas Rangers had agreed to trade second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for first baseman Prince Fielder and $30 million in cash.
With baseball’s “hot stove” season, a period of time marked by trade rumors and free-agent speculation, just beginning in earnest, news of this trade caught many baseball observers off guard.
The deal is an example of what some call an “old-fashioned baseball trade,” meaning a one-for-one trade of two good players between two good teams, a rare event in the current MLB market, which increasingly favors hoarding young talent to be signed long-term or traded to a non-contending team in exchange for a veteran player.
The Tigers needed a second baseman for 2014, while also needing to free up money to extend the contracts of several of their own star players in the near future, such as Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer and two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera.
The Tigers are gaining four seasons of Kinsler, who will likely be good but not great over that span, while saving nearly $76 million dollars in contractual obligations.
From that perspective, it is hard to see the deal as a bad one for Detroit. Texas took on much more of the risk in the deal, but for good reason.
Last season the Rangers had the enviable problem of employing more good middle infielders than there are positions in the middle infield.
The Rangers badly needed a left-handed power bat, and Fielder, when at his best, is one of the greatest in the game.
Kinsler was an astounding player development success story for the Rangers; he was drafted in the 17th round and turned into an All-Star player on the best Rangers team in franchise history.
He was an immensely talented and fun player to watch; he should and will be missed by the fans. Thank you, and best of luck Kinsler. Long live the Prince!