The Tigers and Rangers partnered up for a blockbuster trade Wednesday evening, as Prince Fielder – along with $30 million – is heading to Texas in exchange for Ian Kinsler.
Fielder has seven years remaining on his original nine-year, $214-million contract, while Kinsler has four years remaining on his five-year, $75-million contract.
Fielder hit between 32 and 50 home runs in each of his final five years in Milwaukee but hit just 30 and 25, respectively, in 2012 and 2013. He also failed to drive in a single run in 11 postseason games this year.
Was this a knee-jerk reaction from the Tigers?
“I don’t think so,” CBS Sports MLB columnist Jon Heyman said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “The contract is always the No. 1 thing with anybody. It’s the no. 1 thing with free agency. It’s the No. 1 thing as they’re dealing these players. That’s why you can (understand) Fielder for Kinsler – obviously Fielder’s a better payer straight up – because of the contract. (Fielder) had $168 million to go, and they had to chip in $30 million. But his production wasn’t quite what it was in Milwaukee. He did a nice job protecting (Miguel) Cabrera. They kept pitching to Cabrera, mistakenly so. So I think production and the contract are the issues.”
Losing Fielder’s contract might allow the Tigers to re-sign Max Scherzer – but there’s no guarantee.
“I wouldn’t say automatically,” Heyman said. “When you’re talking about a deal that could be $200 million or more, it’s not automatic. But I think it’s clear they had that in mind. They had Cabrera in mind. They certainly want to get Cabrera done. He’s got two years to go, but Scherzer is probably a little more pressing because he’s got one year to go.”
He’s also the reigning Cy Young winner. He’s also still in his 20s.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Heyman said. “They may have to give (Scherzer) more than they gave (Justin) Verlander, which is not an easy pill to swallow. But Detroit’s been a team that is willing to spend. They’ve had great trades and they’ve been wiling to spend, and that’s what’s kept them at the top.”
Fielder, 29, is a career .286 hitter with 285 home runs, 870 RBIs, 269 doubles and 736 runs. Kinsler, 31, hit .277 with 13 home runs, 72 RBIs and 15 steals last year. He is a career .273 hitter with 156 home runs, 539 RBIs and 172 steals.