Prince Fielder Rumors

Texas Trade Notes: Moreland, Cardinals, Fielder

Mitch Moreland has "no idea" where he might end up or what his role will be now that the Rangers have acquired Prince Fielder and cash in exchange for Ian Kinsler, the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant writes. "I’m just a player," Moreland says. "To be honest, I haven’t thought about my situation much. Come spring, I will be ready to play, whether it is here in Texas or somewhere else." Even with Fielder in the fold, the Rangers could find plenty of at-bats for Moreland, both at DH and in the outfield. A trade might also be a possibility. Here are more notes on the deal.


Reactions To The Kinsler/Fielder Blockbuster

There's been an overwhelming amount written on last night's blockbuster trade that sent Prince Fielder and $30MM to the Rangers in exchange for second baseman Ian Kinsler and the remaining $62MM on his contract, and we'll round up reactions and ripple effects from the trade here with one more post on the mega-deal…

  • The Rangers are still willing to include Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar in the right trade, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal speculates on a trade that could send Andrus or Profar to St. Louis or a Profar package to entice the Rays to part with David Price.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders if shedding Kinsler puts the Rangers in the market for Robinson Cano. Texas could trade Andrus or Profar and make a run at the lifetime Yankee. Sherman also points out that the move at least opens a window for Jhonny Peralta to return to the Tigers as a third baseman — a situation that wasn't possible 48 hours ago.
  • If the Tigers' new windfall allows them to lock up Max Scherzer to a multiyear contract, it'd be bad news for the Red Sox, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. That scenario decrease Jon Lester's competition on next year's free agent market, making him that much more difficult to re-sign. Bradford opines that the Sox should try to beat the Tigers to the punch and work out a new deal with Lester sooner rather than later.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney looks at the winners and losers of the trade in an Insider-only piece, noting that there are many of each. The Tigers top Olney's list of nine winners, while the 2014 Rangers come in at No. 8 on that list. Olney lists the 2016-20 Rangers as losers in the deal, noting that they'll be paying a premium for Fielder's decline. Olney spoke with three evaluators from uninvolved teams, and all three like the deal for Detroit. While the consensus is that the Tigers came out ahead, none of the three condemned the deal for Texas.
  • Olney's colleague, Keith Law, writes that in a baseball sense, he'd rather roll the dice on Fielder than Kinsler, who has shown real signs of decline (Insider subscription required). Law writes that both teams win in the sense that they can clear an everyday spot for their top prospect. While Fielder is a good bet to rebound in 2014, in Law's opinion, he's also more likely to become an overpaid player that isn't worth a roster spot than Kinsler.
  • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs loves the trade for Detroit, as they escape the burden of Fielder's contract and replace him with a player Cameron feels will post a similar WAR total in 2014. Plus, he adds, the $76MM savings would be enough to potentiall add Curtis Granderson and Joe Nathan to the fold. "Kinsler, Granderson, and Nathan, or Prince Fielder? These aren’t even close," writes Cameron.
  • Cameron also analyzed the deal from the Rangers' point of view, and while he's not as quick to heap praise on Texas, he understands the thinking and doesn't consider it a loss for the team. GM Jon Daniels found a good way to move Kinsler and add a first baseman, and opened up a hole for someone who is expected to become a very good player, says Cameron, "…But it was an expensive trade to make, and no team has unlimited resources."
  • Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet examines what the trade means for the Tigers, the Rangers, the free agent market and Scott Boras. Nicholson-Smith says that while it's easy to see why Fielder appealed to the Rangers and he makes their team better, the move is a "clear win" for Dombrowski.
  • The trade affords both team a fresh start and the ability to move on from a pair of misplaced players, writes Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus (subscription required). While second basemen tend to age poorly and Fielder's average fly-ball distance is dropping, both can still be productive players in their new environments, says Miller.
  • Kinsler's agent, Jay Franklin, told Rosenthal that news of the trade was like "getting smoked on the left side of the head" but in a good way. Kinsler is excited for the move and says winning is the most important thing to him. While he didn't want to be traded, he could see the writing on the wall that he may not be in the team's long-term plans, writes Rosenthal.
  • MLBTR's Tim Dierkes looked at the trade earlier today and examined the multiple needs addressed for each team in the deal. He also wonders if there was a cheaper way for the Tigers to get out from Fielder's contract, such as re-signing Omar Infante and trading Fielder plus $42MM for a cheaper, more controllable player.
  • Our own Jeff Todd also weighed in on how the deal impacts the long-term payroll outlook for each team and how it impacts other aspects of the trade and free agent markets. The front-loaded nature of the Rangers' existing contract structure made the Rangers an ideal candidate to take on Fielder's deal, in Jeff's opinion.

The Market Impact Of The Fielder-Kinsler Trade

In case you missed it — or, perhaps, thought the headlines were fantasy baseball musings rather than a real thing — the Tigers and Rangers consummated a rather substantial trade last night. The clubs swapped the big contracts owed Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler, with $30MM also heading to Texas. In sum, then, the Rangers have added $76MM in salary, and each team has plugged a hole that it might otherwise have addressed in free agency.

While the ultimate impact on the fortunes of the two ballclubs involved will not be known for some time, the broader effects on the free agent and trade market will be sizeable and immediate. Here are some initial thoughts on what that might look like:

Reduction In Demand
 
First and foremost, both of these big-spending clubs have now filled major vacancies without a single new dollar being committed to the market. And it is entirely possible that neither of those clubs has opened a new hole through the deal, which is probably a big reason why it got done: top prospect Jurickson Profar will step in at second for Texas, while Detroit has internal options to account for its corner infield jobs (including, potentially, its own highly regarded prospect in Nick Castellanos.) If that is indeed the case, the deal is probably bad news for free agents generally, because it takes two premium, high-paying potential jobs off the market. 
 
The impact is even more pronounced because neither Kinsler nor, especially, Fielder were sure things to be dealt this off-season. And tens of millions of dollars figured to be spent on the spots that each will now occupy. The point shouldn't be overstated — after all, Kinsler could well have ended up taking over at first for Texas, and there are still plenty of openings to be filled — but it will have some impact, especially when it comes time for agents to play serious bidders off of one another to drive high prices or prop up low ones. After already seeing international free agents take away possible new homes, guys like Omar Infante and Mike Napoli probably have lost a potential landing spot, and with it some leverage.
 
Except For Corner Outfielders?
 
On the other hand, one particular group of free agents could stand to benefit: top corner outfielders. Both the Tigers and Rangers entered the off-season with a need at the corner outfield, as MLBTR's Steve Adams and Charlie Wilmoth respectively explained. Now, those clubs have found a way to address one need without coming out of their collective pocket. In theory, that should mean more money is free on the market to be spent on outfielding needs.
 
Enhancing the impact is the fact that multiple mid-tier options — Marlon Byrd, David DeJesus and David Murphy — have already come off the board at fairly substantial prices, setting a high floor. And those signings may not have drastically reduced demand: the Phillies could well still be in on top outfielders, and the Indians were, as Charlie noted, far from certain to spend at the corner outfield coming into the off-season (meaning that Murphy does not really take an obvious, pre-existing landing spot away from free agents). Four of the top twenty open-market players (per MLBTR's Tim Dierkes) are expected to defend the flanks of the outfield, and that already-well-regarded group could see a boost.
 
A potential corner outfield boom probably requires the Fielder-Kinsler dancemates actually to be buyers in that market. Having made a deal out of left field, are these two clubs now more or less likely — as a practical matter — to spend on left field? While there are arguments in both directions, I think both Texas and Detroit will keep the wallets open for the corners.
 
You might pencil in the Tigers to apply their cash windfall to a Max Scherzer extension instead. But with a roster begging for another shot or three at a World Series victory, the organization seems relatively unconcerned with limiting short-term payroll. (Indeed, this deal will not help Detroit much in that regard.) Instead, the payroll flexibility needed by GM Dave Dombrowski and co. is in the long run: Fielder promised to be a major drag and an impediment to keeping players like Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera in Motown. But the Tigers should have little problem keeping free future cash for Scherzer while still aggressively pursuing Torii Hunter's mirror image in left field — a strong veteran who figures to land a short- or mid-length deal.
 
Of course, nothing is decided, and Dombrowski could chase a third baseman or keep Cabrera there while deploying Castellanos in the outfield. But the thin market at the hot corner and Miggy's recent injuries, age, and defensive limitations keep the smart money on a new addition in left.
 
Meanwhile, the Rangers added salary, which would seem to be a significant drag on outfield spending. But the net payroll impact of $76MM is less than the team would have likely committed to a premium free agent, and the cost was a player that had become expendable. More importantly, because the length of Fielder's deal is the biggest factor in the cost difference, the added dollars mostly impact the payroll further down the line. The Rangers were one of those clubs whose future obligations were fairly front-loaded, making the salary flip relatively easy to stomach in the long run. And in the short run, Texas should remain just about as flexible as it was already.
 
With first base filled, the corner outfield and catcher are the two clear areas where GM Jon Daniels can most easily add value over the in-house options. Indeed, Daniels noted that the club still intends to add another bat. With the aforementioned Murphy now in Cleveland, the Rangers may at this point be even more likely to spend in the outfield than they were before the deal, when a shift of Kinsler to left was at least a hypothetical possibility.
 
Shifting Trade Winds
 
This unexpected blockbuster could also impact several other rumored swaps. With Fielder's remaining seven years off the books, extending (or re-signing) Scherzer now looks a lot more feasible from Detroit's perspective. Indeed, Dombrowski acknowledged that keeping the newly-minted Cy Young winner is now "more possible going forward." As MLBTR's Zach Links noted, that makes speculation that Scherzer might be dealt seem less plausible. 
 
Further, a major premise of the rumors linking the Rangers to star trade chips like David Price and Giancarlo Stanton was the possibility of packaging Profar, a centerpiece that few other organizations could match. But with his name now scratched into the middle infield dirt at Arlington, Texas may no longer have the trump card — or, perhaps more importantly, the desire and ability to deal from depth — that made it a seeming market-driver for premium trade acquisition targets. (Of course, even if Profar's new starting gig has some impact on Tampa's ability to drive up the trade value of Price, the lack of a competing front-line starter in Scherzer would more than compensate.)
 
Finally, with Kinsler finding a new home in a pretty unexpected place, teams that might have targeted him as a keystone option will have to look elsewhere. Of course, as Dave Cameron of Fangraphs notes, Howie Kendrick and Brandon Phillips still seem available by trade. So there is only the slightest silver lining here for Infante, who as Zach reported will not return to Detroit. If the Yankees bring back Robinson Cano, as expected, the market may be devoid of big-spending, win-now competitors for his services.
 
Ultimately, there is little question that yesterday's trade will have major ripple effects on how the puzzle pieces end up falling in place. While it is impossible to forecast with any confidence exactly what the impact will be, this deal makes for a fascinating shift of the market at the outset of the off-season.

 
Franchise Alteration
 
Finally, while I will not offer any take on the merits of the deal for the two teams involved, I would like to offer some further perspective on its impact to their balance sheets. In some ways, the clubs have swapped positions in terms of future financial obligations. With $30MM reportedly set to head south over 2016-20 (presumably, in equal installments), the deal results in the following changes to the clubs' respective guaranteed contract obligations from 2015 onward (information courtesty of Cot's Baseball Contracts):
 
DET v TEX
 
To visualize the shifts, look at these charts of the future commitments:
 
DET
 
TEX



Rangers, Tigers Address Multiple Issues With Fielder-Kinsler Swap

The Rangers and Tigers shook up their lineups and payrolls Wednesday night, as the Tigers sent slugger Prince Fielder and $30MM to Texas for second baseman Ian Kinsler.  Here's my take from each team's point of view.

Kinsler, 32 in June, slipped offensively to .266/.334/.418 over the last two seasons.  Is he still above average defensively at second base?  A stat like UZR says no, while The Fielding Bible's defensive runs saved says yes.  In fact, The Fielding Bible's panel of ten experts considers Kinsler the sixth-best defensive second baseman in the game, with half of the panel ranking him fourth or better.  Out of the five players who topped Kinsler defensively, he outhit all except Dustin Pedroia and Ben Zobrist in 2013.  Kinsler might not be the player he was in his mid-20s, which is normal, but he's still close to a top ten second baseman.

Kinsler also has four years and $62MM remaining on his contract, and in a sabermetric sense, he has a decent chance of returning that much value.  Wins above replacement puts a large premium on playing a position like second base decently, as it should, but I don't think the market of 29 other MLB teams viewed Kinsler as a $15.5MM player for each of the next four years.  When the market undervalues your asset, the best move is to keep it, but the Rangers have Jurickson Profar.  21 in February, Profar is MLB-ready and highly regarded around the game, and the Rangers intend to slot him in as their regular second baseman.  The upside is huge, but there's no guarantee he'll be as good as Kinsler over the next couple of years.  He will, however, play at the league minimum.

In Kinsler, the Tigers get a second baseman to replace Omar Infante, who is currently a free agent.  GM Dave Dombrowski indicated last night that Infante was as good as gone regardless of this trade, which is surprising.  Even a three-year, $30MM contract for Infante would have been acceptable value, and the Tigers had that option available to them.  It seems likely the Tigers' motivation in last night's trade was more about getting out from Fielder's contract than acquiring Kinsler.  Fielder is signed through 2020, and with a seven-year, $168MM commitment, the fact that the Tigers had to send $30MM to the Rangers to trade him for a neutral-value asset suggests Fielder had significantly negative trade value.

If the deal was mostly about payroll flexibility, did the Tigers have better options to achieve it?  Could they have signed Infante for $30MM and included $42MM to send Fielder packing for a different, cheaper player such as a quality late-inning reliever?  Such a move could have afforded the Tigers over $90MM in new payroll flexibility, rather than the $76MM they added.  They still would have seen the benefit of moving Miguel Cabrera across the diamond.  However, trading Fielder for a reliever or something similar would have been a tough sell to fans, and even at Jayson Werth money for Fielder it's not as if the Tigers would have found a dozen suitors.

Fielder will play next year at age 30, and had a seven-year, $168MM commitment remaining.  With a disappointing platform year and a draft pick cost attached, could agent Scott Boras have gotten him that contract this offseason?  Add in the fact that Fielder seems much closer to a permanent DH role than he did two years ago, and I think Boras would have fallen short.  It's more plausible that Fielder could have gotten $138MM over seven years, though, and the Rangers didn't have to give up a draft pick.  Plus, even if they overvalue power, the free agent and trade markets didn't offer a first baseman like Fielder this offseason.  Fielder's off-year was about as good as Mike Napoli's 2013 season, which might be Napoli's peak.  Fielder was an elite hitter as recently as 2012, and the Rangers expect him to bounce back closer to that level in 2014.

Fielder serves as a big offensive upgrade for the Rangers at first base, though it's likely they lose offense at second base if they go with Profar.  They've still got flexibility at an outfielder corner, catcher, and designated hitter to add more offense.  I wonder if Brian McCann becomes less viable for them, as the oft-cited general plan to move McCann to DH around the fourth year of his contract may be hampered by the Rangers' need to put Fielder there.

I'm sure Boras will have plenty to say about this deal.  He probably would suggest the Rangers righted a wrong in acquiring Fielder, since they were not able to finish a free agent deal with him two years ago (perhaps due to objections from Nolan Ryan).  While the move creates more opportunity for the Tigers to do a historic pitching contract with another Boras client, Max Scherzer, I think that matters to the agent only in that he can count the Tigers as a more viable suitor once Scherzer reaches free agency after the 2014 season.  


Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski On Trade, Scherzer

The Tigers didn't just get a talented second baseman in exchange for Prince Fielder, they got a whole lot of money (an estimated $76MM) to spend elsewhere.  The question now becomes, what will they do with their new found financial flexibility?  I asked Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski if the trade could lead to a long-term deal for star pitcher Max Scherzer.

"It makes it perhaps more possible.  As we've talked about in the past, we have a lot of stars on our club, They're well paid stars and under any circumstances, even with an owner like Mike Ilitch, you can only be in a position where you have so many of those types of players," Dombrowski told reporters on this evening's conference call.  "Does it make it probable?  I can''t say that.  But it makes it more possible going forward."

As Rangers GM Jon Daniels explained in his conference call earlier this evening, Dombrowski said that the deal came together at lightning speed with the first serious phone call taking place Tuesday afternoon.  However, it would seem that the wheels started turning for the Tigers front office earlier than that.  Dombrowski said that the Rangers made it clear at the GM Meetings that they were more interested in trading Ian Kinsler than fellow second baseman Jurickson Profar and were looking for a middle-of-the-order bat.

The arrival of Kinsler and the departure of Fielder will lead to a lot of change in the Detroit infield.  While Dombrowski isn't exactly sure who will go where – Miguel Cabrera, he says, isn't a lock to go to first base in 2014 – Omar Infante is almost certainly out of the picture.  However, even without the trade, it sounds like Infante was destined to change uniforms anyway.

"In Infante's case, I can't say 100%, but with the acquisition of Kinsler, we're not in a position to add a second baseman … that was most likely the case before [anyway] because we were looking to go younger with Hernan Perez," said the Tigers GM.

Kinsler will man second base, but for how long?  When asked if the 31-year-old can play the position for years to come, Dombrowski sounded optimistic about his ability to maintain his first step and range.  He acknowledged that it could be an issue that is revisited down the line, but Kinsler figures to stay at second base for "the next couple years or maybe longer."

With the trade talks happening in less time than it takes to plan a weekend vacation, some elements were rushed.  Dombrowski got the greenlight from Ilitch Wednesday afternoon and it didn't sound as though it was a lengthy conversation.  Dombrowski also wanted to get the chance to chat with Fielder as the deal was being completed, but he didn't get the opportunity.  Fielder is on vacation in the Bahamas and was away from his phone when Dombrowski called to let him know the trade was official.  With a full voicemail inbox, the two wound up exchanging texts with Dombrowski thanking him for his time in Detroit and wishing him the best in Arlington.


Rangers GM Jon Daniels On How Trade Came Together

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.


Rangers Acquire Prince Fielder For Ian Kinsler

9:41pm: Texas has announced the completion of the trade.

8:23pm: Detroit will be sending $30MM to Texas, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.  With that cash, Texas will effectively be paying Fielder $138MM over seven years.  From the Tigers' side of things, they'll have a total savings of $76MM.

7:21pm: The Tigers have agreed to trade Prince Fielder to the Rangers for Ian Kinsler, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  There's no word yet of another player being involved in the swap, but the Rangers will get cash back in the deal, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas News (on Twitter).  The deal's lone remaining hurdle would appear to be approval from the commissioner's office.Princefielder

The Rangers were in the mix for Fielder when he was on the open market a couple years ago before the Tigers signed him to a nine-year, $214MM deal.  Fielder took a step back in 2013, posting a .279/.362/.457 slash line as opposed to the .287/.393/.538 batting line he posted in his previous eight campaigns.  For all of the concern over his conditioning, Fielder sure has been durable - the slugger has missed just one regular season game in the last five seasons.

Aside from giving Texas a five-time All-Star with a big bat, the deal would have the added benefit of opening up second base for Jurickson Profar.  Kinsler's name has been on MLBTR quite a bit in recent months thanks to the Rangers' middle infield logjam and lack of quality second base options available on the open market outside of kingpin Robinson Cano.  The veteran has spent his entire career with Texas, hitting .273/.349/.454 across eight big league seasons.  While not on the level of Fielder's deal, the 31-year-old has a pretty decent-sized contract himself as he is guaranteed $62MM through 2017.

FIelder has a limited no-trade clause as a part of his contract and it turns out that Texas was on his no-trade list, but he apparently waived it to help facilitate the deal.  Moving Fielder's deal, or at least a sizable chunk of it, could help free up the cash necessary to work out a new contract with star pitcher Max Scherzer.  There has been talk in recent weeks of the Tigers shopping the 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner (or fellow pitcher Rick Porcello), but it's conceivable that Detroit can now come to the table with enough breathing room to satisfy agent Scott Boras.  There's also the possibility of locking up Miguel Cabrera, whose eight-year, $152MM+ deal expired after 2015.

The trade figures to have a pretty serious domino effect on the free agent market.  The Tigers won't be bringing Omar Infante back to Detroit now that they've addressed their second base need with Kinsler.  The Rangers, meanwhile, have first base taken care of and their pursuit of a reunion with Mike Napoli is likely through.  If Texas is really ready to shake things up, they could theoretically move Jurickson Profar to make way for top free agent Robinson Cano.

The deal should prompt a positional shift for the Tigers, and one imagines that they will play Nick Castellanos at third base while slotting Miguel Cabrera at first.  

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Fallout From Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler Trade

The Tigers and Rangers gave us the first blockbuster trade of the offseason tonight when they agreed to swap Prince Fielder + $30MM for Ian Kinsler.  Here's a look at the latest reactions and fallout from the mega-deal..

  • The Rangers might not be done yet.  A source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) that the Rangers still want to add another bat.  GM Jon Daniels & Co. could continue their pursuits of free agents such as Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz, and others.
  • Nolan Ryan being out of the picture in Arlington probably removed a big roadblock in agent Scott Boras finally getting Fielder to Texas, opines Tim Dierkes of MLBTR (via Twitter).  The Rangers had serious interest in the slugger when he was a free agent two years ago, but some members of the front office weren't as high on him.
  • The $30MM sent from Detroit to Texas effectively takes Fielder's contract down to $138MM over seven years for the Rangers, but Dave Cameron of Fangraphs (via Twitter) argues that the same money and years could have netted them Jacoby Ellsbury or McCann and another piece.  Overall, Cameron sees the deal as a win for the Tigers.
  • Fielder is a steal at $138MM over seven years as he might be demanding as much as Robinson Cano if he were on the open market right now, opines Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter).
  • The Tigers were motivated to make the deal in part because of concerns that MIguel Cabrera couldn't play third base anymore due to injuries and a lack of mobility, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
  • Passan (Twitter links) suggests that one way to look at the deal is that the Rangers would have been paying Kinsler $62MM over the next four years and with the cash considerations they're getting, they'll only be giving Fielder $4MM more over that span.  Of course, they'll also be paying the slugger $24MM in his age 34, 35, and 36 seasons beyond that period.
  • The Tigers were worried about how Fielder would age and about freeing up cash, but Cabrera did win two MVPs with Fielder hitting behind him, notes Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • Even though the Tigers are likely out on Omar Infante, there are still plenty of options out there for him, Tim tweets.
  • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter) wonders if the Rangers can still make a play for David Price.
  • Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com looks at what Fielder's arrival in Texas will mean, including a bump up for Jurickson Profar.

Fielder For Kinsler Blockbuster Is Being Discussed

The Rangers and Tigers are discussing a blockbuster deal that would send Prince Fielder to Texas for Ian Kinsler, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has learned.  One person involved in the talks called it a “possibility.”

The dollar amount of Fielder’s contract isn’t the only potential hurdle in getting such a deal done.  Fielder holds a limited no-trade clause, but it isn’t known if it includes the Rangers.

The Rangers were in the mix for Fielder when he was on the open market a couple years ago before the Tigers signed him to a nine-year, $214MM deal.  Fielder took a step back in 2013, posting a .279/.362/.457 slash line as opposed to the .287/.393/.538 batting line he posted in his previous eight campaigns.  For all of the concern over his conditioning, Fielder sure has been durable - the slugger has missed just one regular season game in the last five seasons. 

Aside from giving Texas a five-time All-Star with a big bat, the deal would have the added benefit of opening up second base for Jurickson Profar.  Kinsler’s name has been on MLBTR quite a bit in recent months thanks to the Rangers’ middle infield logjam and lack of quality second base options available on the open market outside of kingpin Robinson Cano.  The veteran has spent his entire career with Texas, hitting .273/.349/.454 across eight big league seasons.  While not on the level of Fielder’s deal, the 31-year-old has a pretty decent-sized contract himself as he is owed $57MM through 2017.


Checking In On The Latest $100MM Contracts

Every year a few players join baseball’s exclusive $100MM club with free agent deals and mega-extensions. Last offseason was no different — eight players signed nine figure deals. The contracts were all for five years or more, so it’s far too early to call them successes or failures. As the season approaches its halfway point, let’s check in on baseball’s newest $100MM contracts:

  • Albert Pujols, ten-year, $240MM contract - Pujols had a painfully slow start, but he has raised his batting line to a respectable .270/.332/.461. His last 40 games have been legitimately Pujols-like: 11 home runs and an OPS over 1.000.
  • Joey Votto, ten-year, $225MM extension - It's impossible to have a complete discussion about baseball's best hitters without considering Votto. The 28-year-old leads the National League in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, walks, doubles and wOBA, so this deal couldn't be going any better for the Reds.
  • Prince Fielder, nine-year, $214MM contract - Fielder continues to hit at an All-Star level, though he has a relatively modest total of 12 home runs. Unfortunately for Tigers fans Mike Ilitch's bold investment hasn't been enough to keep the team above .500.
  • Matt Kemp, eight-year, $160MM extension - Hamstring issues have sidelined Kemp, who was the best hitter in the National League for the first month of the season.
  • C.C. Sabathia, five-year, $122MM extension - Sabathia, now on the disabled list with a strained groin, is in the midst of yet another tremendous season. He has a 3.45 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 107 innings.
  • Matt Cain, five-year, $112.5MM extension - Cain's enjoying his best season as a Major Leaguer. He has a career-best ERA (2.27), strikeout rate (9.0 K/9) and walk rate (1.9 BB/9) through 107 innings. The Giants' decision to invest in Cain still looks like a good one.
  • Jose Reyes, six-year, $106MM extension - Reyes' offensive numbers have dropped off across the board this year, no thanks to a 60 point dip in batting average on balls in play.
  • Ryan Zimmerman, six-year, $100MM extension - Zimmerman's off to a slow start at the plate despite two home runs in his past three games. He missed two weeks with shoulder soreness earlier in the year and has just a .235/.297/.350 batting line.