TIM MCCULLOUGH, ASSISTANT EDITOR NOVEMBER 21, 2013
By now you are well aware of the trade that sent Prince Fielder and a boatload of cash to the Texas Rangers and Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers. While we could debate the merits of the Rangers investing in Fielder, a player whose production has declined for three straight years, the real ramifications of this deal will trickle down to affect numerous other players. Let’s consider just a few of the more obvious changes to the Fantasy landscape for 2014.
Prince Fielder – The move to The Ballpark in Arlington takes Fielder from an environment that was third-best for runs and 13th best for HRs in terms of park factors to one that was 17th and 19th best for runs and HRs respectively. It also takes him from one of the weaker divisions to a somewhat stronger one in terms of pitching. One plus is that he’ll get 18 games against the doormat Houston Astros next season.
The trade involving Fielder and Kinsler opens all kinds of doors for others. Photo Credit: Steve Schar
Ian Kinsler – Of course, he goes in the opposite direction from Fielder in park factors. He also gets to stay at second base instead of moving to first base as was expected if he remained with the Rangers. But it’s also worth noting that in 162 plate appearances in Comerica Park, Kinsler batted just .200/.298/.329 and he hasn’t exactly torn the cover off the ball in several other AL Central ballparks.
Jurickson Profar – The Rangers man without a position to play now has one with Kinsler gone. He was somewhat under-whelming in 2013, but then he didn’t play regularly either, which probably hurt his development a bit. He’ll get regular at bats in 2014 as the Rangers everyday second baseman. If he hits and gets on base he’ll hit near the top of the lineup and he’ll have Fielder and Adrian Beltre to drive him home. Big “if,” though, based on what we’ve seen so far.
Adrian Beltre – He gains a little lineup protection from Fielder, something that was sorely lacking this past season.
Mitch Moreland – Moreland is the biggest loser in all of this, as he loses any chance of playing first base for the Rangers ever again. In fact, it’s not clear just what they’ll do with Moreland at all, especially given his struggles with the bat last season.
Miguel Cabrera – Miggy moves across the diamond to man first base for the Tigers going forward. Given his poor defense at the hot corner this can only be a plus for Tigers pitchers. Cabrera’s body will also benefit from the somewhat less taxing position of first base. Maybe he’ll avoid being banged up next October.
Nick Castellanos – He’s another big winner, as he will no longer be blocked from playing third base, his natural position. His bat is ready for the bigs, so he will be the likely starting third baseman for the Tigers next season. With a decent power/average bat he’ll be a Fantasy darling right from the get go.
Mike Napoli – There’s been lots of speculation that he would return to the Rangers after winning a World Series with the Red Sox, who don’t want to give him a multi-year deal. Now he has one less possible landing spot since the Rangers don’t have need of his services anymore – unless he goes back to catching. Not likely. He could end up back in Boston now.