If the Rangers' trade for Prince Fielder seemed to come completely out of left field for fans, that's because it did. In a conference call with reporters tonight, Rangers GM Jon Daniels said that talks didn't get into gear until Tuesday when Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski called with an ambitious idea. I asked Daniels if he envisioned a deal for Fielder or a player of his caliber coming together all along this offseason.
"We have gone through a variety of scenarios, some more realistic than others. This is something that we had touched on. We hadn't delved deeply into it until yesterday and it picked up speed from there," Daniels said.
Daniels noted that it wouldn't be possible to trade a player of Ian Kinsler's caliber for someone at another position without tremendous organizational depth, something he attributes to Texas' strong scouting department. As it stands today, Kinsler's departure will give way to Jurickson Profar as the team's full-time second baseman.
Fielder unquestionably gives the Rangers a monster bat, but some have pointed to his performance in 2013 as cause for concern. After posting a .287/.393/.538 batting line across his previous eight seasons, Fielder took a step back in 2013, posting a .279/.362/.457 slash line. Daniels took that regression into consideration, but he didn't sound terribly concerned about it.
"We looked at it quite a bit. If he was coming off the best year of his career then [he wouldn't] be available. I think that's kind of the whole idea of this deal. If anyone feels like that's a sign of things to come, that he's slipping, you may not like the deal, we don't feel that way...based on what we got from our scouts, and some of the analysis we did, we think there's a lot more to come," the GM said, while also noting that he got a fair amount of his homework done two years ago when Fielder was a free agent and a Rangers target.
When asked about what the acquisition of Fielder might mean for the future of Mitch Moreland, Daniels insisted that he is still very much a part of the club's plans. While Moreland would have value to other teams after belting a career-high 23 homers in 2013, Daniels said that he values his bat just as much. First base is no longer open for Moreland, but he can still find playing time in the outfield or at DH. "We're not giving up on the guy," Daniels said.
Daniels says that finding another bat at another position is still very much "a part of the plan" even after tonight's blockbuster. Texas showed tonight that they're willing to shake things up in order to improve and it would be a surprise if this were the last significant move that they make this winter.