“Whenever it’s warm, I feel loose and better. It’s going to be hot”
On Wednesday the Texas Rangers acquired Prince Fielder in a trade with the Detroit Tigers. Texas shipped out long time second baseman Ian Kinsler to Detroit in exchange for the power hitting 29 year-old first baseman and $30 million in cash. Prince enters Arlington with $168 million remaining on his contract, of which the Rangers will be responsible for $138 million. Kinsler arrives in Detroit with $62 million left on his contract. In total, Texas acquires Prince Fielder for $138 million and Detroit acquires Ian Kinsler for $92 million.
I think that Texas Rangers fans will be split on this trade, some welcoming the power Fielder will bring to the order, some sore from losing a player who has been with the Rangers for eight years. I count myself amongst the group excited to see Prince in Texas and here is why:
Ron Washington stated on Thursday that Fielder will be the team’s starting first baseman, thereby moving Mitch Moreland to second string. Personally, I am a proponent of this decision. Some could argue that Fielder should be placed at DH and that Texas should leave Moreland as the starter. While I do think this is a valid point it is not strong enough to argue that Prince shouldn’t be playing first. He was 15th in the league in errors committed with 6 while recording 1152 putouts last season. On top of that fans have to remember that Fielder was the starting first baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers for six years before even moving to Detroit, so he does have skill.
The departure of Ian Kinsler leaves a hole to be filled at second base. The obvious heir to the position is last year’s top rookie prospect, Jurickson Profar. Profar, who signed with the Rangers when he was only 16 years old, did not perform well in his 85 major league games in 2013 hitting only .234/.308/.336. However, Rangers fans know that the kid can hit as he was unanimously chosen as 2013 top prospect. In the field, Profar has always been more of a shortstop. He did play in 32 games at second base last season, but committed an astounding 4 errors in just that short time. Don’t get me wrong; I am a huge fan of young guys playing in the league. However, I think that the Rangers should be very cautious if they choose to start Profar at second base. Finding a low-budget veteran second baseman to have as a back-up and mentor for Profar could be beneficial for the club’s success.
Having Prince take the field instead of wasting him in the DH spot opens up another opportunity in the Rangers lineup to augment their power. Moreland, who is less than ideal but still not a terrible hitter, could take that spot. Other than that the team’s current options are Adam Rosales, Craig Gentry, Jim Adduci, or Engel Beltre. Having any one of those players in there as DH would be a huge disaster. Their combined career total home runs is 24. In other words, the Rangers’ mission is not done yet because they still need a power hitting designated hitter. Look for that acquisition in weeks to come.
The biggest concern surrounding this trade is that the Rangers are paying too much money for a player who is past his prime. Over the past three seasons Prince has seen his power decrease from 38 home runs in 2011, to 30 in 2012, to 25 in 2013. However, Fielder still hit for more than 100 RBI’s in each of those seasons. On top of that he has always been extremely healthy, as he has only missed 13 games in his entire career and only one in the last five years. While he has not been hitting the same number of home runs as earlier in his career I would not expect for that trend to continue. The excitement of coming to a new team and playing in front of a new crowd will hopefully heat up Fielder’s bat.
Another concern is that Prince isn’t good at running the bases. This is false. He had one stolen base in 2013. That is more than Derek Jeter, Max Scherzer, and Bruce Bochy combined!
I am excited to see Prince Fielder in a Rangers uniform next season. I do not think he is worth the $138 million that Texas is paying him, but I am glad to see that at least somebody in the Rangers management is reading these articles and making moves.