On Wednesday night, the Detroit Tigers shocked the baseball world by trading Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Ian Kinsler. Here are reasons why it was both a good, and bad move for Detroit.
Why It’s Good
Huge contracts are a cardinal sin in Major League Baseball, and Prince Fielder’s 9-year $214 million dollar contract is certainly up there. There was little to no chance that he would be able to live to that contract. After all, 2013 was the first time since his rookie year of 2006 that he hit under 30 home-runs. His 25 home-runs were also the lowest home-run total of his career. There’s already a decline going on in his game and you can bet the Angels and the Yankees would love to get out from under Albert Pujols’s and Alex Rodriguez’s contract right about now.
With Fielder’s contract off the books, the Tigers now have the payroll flexibility to improve the team in other areas. Detroit has the ability to give the reigning AL Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer the contract he wants, and can give an extension to Cabrera. The Tigers are now once again serious players in the free agent pool and big names will be available in the next few years.
Kinsler is a real leadoff hitter
Austin Jackson is a great talent, there’s no doubt, but one thing he isn’t is a lead-off hitter. While his strikeout numbers have steadily declined, he has still struck out over 125 times every year he’s been in the Major Leagues. Jackson’s never had an on-base percentage over .380, and everyone knows that he was dropped to 8th in the Tigers lineup in the ALDS. Kinsler on the other hand, struck out just 59 times in 2013 and he gives the Tigers the legitimate table-setter the team needs at the top of the lineup.
Why It’s Bad
Tigers were so close
If Miguel Cabrera was remotely healthy in the ALCS, the Detroit Tigers would have been in the World Series. The Tigers lost 2-games by one run, and Cabrera was right in the middle of it. During game 3 of the ALCS with Boston leading 1-0 and runners on first and 3rd, Junichi Tazawa pumped 3 straight fastballs past Cabrera to preserve the lead and the win. Then in game 5, Cabrera attempted to score from second on a single, but was thrown out easily by Johnny Gomes at the plate. Detroit went on to lose the game by one run. If Cabrera had made contact in game 3, and had been able to run in game 5, it could have been the Tigers playing in the World Series. Now that the team is going in a different direction, it’s unclear if this team will be able replicate its success from 2013.
Protection for Cabrera
It’s no coincidence that during the 2-years the Tigers had Prince Fielder protecting Miguel Cabrera, that Cabrera had the 2 most productive seasons of his career. The first year they were together, Cabrera became the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the triple crown.
He eclipsed the 40-home-run and the 130 RBI plateaus for the first time in his career. His walk total also dropped from 108 in 2011 to just 66 in 2012. Pitchers had to pitch to him and Cabrera took major advantage. He did it again in 2013 hitting over 40 home-runs and driving in over 130 runs for the second year in a row. Now with Fielder gone, Cabrera’s protection in the lineup just took a severe hit and come 2014, the league will really get to see what Prince Fielder meant to Miguel Cabrera’s success on the field.
If you don’t think Cabrera is torn up about this trade, all you have to do is look at his twitter account. After the trade went down, Miggy tweeted 11 pictures of him and Fielder together, including this one.
— Miguel Cabrera (@MiguelCabrera) November 21, 2013