Nothing about Prince Fielder has ever been small. Not his power, not his talent, not his body, not his signing as a free agent with the Tigers two years ago. And now, not his departure as a Tiger. The Tigers on Wednesday traded their slugging first baseman to the Rangers and cash considerations for second baseman Ian Kinsler. Reports of the cash considerations start at $30 million. “We are fortunate to be in a position to acquire a quality and proven player in Ian Kinsler,” said Tigers’ president and general manager Dave Dombrowski. “Ian is an All-Star-caliber talent who provides our lineup with a top-of-the-order bat and has been a solid defensive performer at second base. “The Tigers’ organization thanks Prince Fielder for his contributions to our ball club for the past two seasons and we wish him all the best in the future.” Before the Tigers’ front office officially commented on the deal, the players did, with Justin Verlander tweeting “wow!!! Big news. . .we traded Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler.” The move will make an immediate impact in two areas: The Tigers’ payroll and their batting order. Kinsler, who will be 32 next June, isn’t the power hitter that Fielder is. He’s more a top-of-the-lineup contributor than middle. And while handsomely paid, Kinsler’s contract pales in comparison to Fielder’s, who still had seven years and $168 million left on his contract. Kinsler is owed another $62 million through 2018, including a $5 million buyout in 2018 if the Tigers choose not to bring him back for that year at $10 million. Fielder, however, was stepping up to $24 million a year in 2014 and was going to be paid that same amount per season through 2020. That adds up to a guaranteed $168 million for Fielder — $106 million more than Kinsler is owed. With the money saved in the deal, however, the Tigers could find themselves in a better position to retain Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, who is coming off a 21-3 season and is eligible for free agency after 2014. “It makes it perhaps more possible,” Dombrowski said, when asked if the freed-up money would help in the re-signing of Scherzer. “Does it make it probable? I can’t say that, but it gives us more flexibility as we go forward. “Max is a player we’d like to keep in the organization.” The Tigers signed Fielder as a free agent before the 2012 season, welcoming him back to the city where he grew up as Cecil Fielder’s son — and where he used to hit batting-practice pitches into the seats at Tiger Stadium. Fielder was brought back to bolster the middle of the Tigers’ lineup when it lost Victor Martinez to a knee injury that cost Martinez the entire 2012 season. Bolster it he did. Fielder hit .313 in his first year, an All-Star year, as a Tiger —with 30 home runs and 108 RBIs. His second season was not as successful, however. Fielder’s batting average dropped to .279 with 25 home runs and 106 RBIs. It was a year of reduced impact for him, but also a troubled one for him personally, what with news of a divorce becoming public. Fielder didn’t become distant with his teammates, but comments he made when the Tigers were eliminated from postseason play made a bad impression — compounding the ugly fact that in his last 18 postseason games he didn’t knock in so much as one run. Trying to explain his slump, Fielder only made matters worse when he said “if they throw a mistake, I hit it. If not, I won’t. It’s that simple.” But it shouldn’t have been that simple. Good hitters are supposed to hit good pitches once in a while, not just mistakes. Good hitters making $24 million certainly are supposed to. What he said about the Tigers’ quest to get to the World Series again made matters worse. He was disappointed, to be sure, but made it sound as if he wasn’t. “It’s not really tough for me,” he said about the Tigers’ being ousted before reaching their goal. “It’s over. I’ve got kids I have to take care of. I have things I have to take care. “For me, it’s over, bro.” About the fans who might be taking elimination harder than it appeared he was, he said, “they don’t play. I mean, if you have responsibilities, you shouldn’t take your work home. I still have to be a father. “So, you know, I have to move on.” Since then, Fielder has been fair game on local talk shows — as well among fans wanting to hear the agony of defeat from him instead of the fact he was just moving on. Well, he’s moving on now. That’s for sure. Finding a taker for Fielder where it looked like there might be none because of the weight of his contract, the Tigers got out from under the oppressive financial terms of Fielder’s future — but in the process, they also patched the hole at second base left by Omar Infante’s certain departure as a free agent. Kinsler is a career .273 hitter.
Tigers agree to trade Fielder and cash to Texas for Kinsler
Detroit News | Nov 21