The Tigers and Rangers have agreed to a blockbuster trade that will send Prince Fielder to Texas with Ian Kinsler going to Detroit in return. The quiet before the storm is over, the Hot Stove season has well-and-truly begun.
There's a lot of stuff going on here, but let's try and parse it down.
There are few contracts in baseball more dangerous than Prince Fielders. I say "dangerous" because it's not just clearly awful like Carl Crawford's, though at that point we're talking semantics. Either way, he's signed through 2020 at $24 million a year, making him a massive financial weight for any team. And, coming off of the worst season of his career, with his physical issues being what they are, it's hard to stress just how huge a risk this is for Texas. This is the kind of contract that can ruin a franchise.
Still, the sting is mitigated by the fact that they no longer have to pay Ian Kinsler. As fans of the Red Sox, who mostly dance around the Collective Bargaining Tax threshold, it's easy to get caught up in average annual value and forget that Kinsler, while counting for just $9.6 million against his team's payroll in that regard, will actually cost the Tigers $62 million himself over the next five years (or $69 million if they pick up the option in that fifth year). It's not nearly so much as Fielder, but it certainly helps, particularly if the Rangers are getting back any significant amount of money in the deal.
The loss of Kinsler, meanwhile, isn't much to stomach given that they were struggling to find time for both Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus. Problem solved.
The Tigers, meanwhile, get back a player who, if he has a concerning injury history, has been reasonably good even when unhealthy. He's only fully worth his salary when he's playing at 100%, but isn't quite the anchor around their neck that Fielder was.
So what's this all mean for the Red Sox? Well, the Mike Napoli and Brian McCann markets are likely effected. For the Rangers, McCann might now be an unaffordable luxury, particularly given that they'll be hard-pressed to find a place for him if he can't stick behind the plate. And while there's been talks of them moving Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli also seems a bit of a long shot, particularly given that they let him walk just one year back.
As for the Tigers, Miguel Cabrera seems set to return to first with Nick Castellanos getting the call at the hot corner, so there's no new market opening up for Napoli there.
The early judgement on this deal will likely be determined by just how much money Texas is getting back, though at the moment reactions seem to be quite varied indeed. For my two cents, though, I'd have to be really convinced that Fielder is not 29-going-on-36 to accept that contract. And I am anything but.
Of course, all the predictions matter little if Fielder comes roaring back in Arlington and holds up for the long haul. As ever, only time will tell.
Source: Detroit will be sending $30 million to Texas in the Prince Fielder deal.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 21, 2013
So that makes it four years of Ian Kinsler at $15.5 million for seven years of Prince Fielder at $19.7 million. That's a lot of money coming back, but still leaves the Rangers in some serious danger. Still, better than it looked at first glance for Texas.