How the Blockbuster Trade for Prince Fielder Impacts the Rangers in 2014

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How the Blockbuster Trade for Prince Fielder Impacts the Rangers in 2014
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The Rangers have acquired first baseman Prince Fielder from the Detroit Tigers.

The biggest move of the offseason thus far took place on Wednesday, as CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman is reporting that the Texas Rangers have agreed to trade second baseman Ian Kinsler to Detroit in exchange for first baseman Prince Fielder and $30 million.

With physicals and the approval of Bud Selig still pending, this trade will likely be completed in no time.

To put it lightly, this is a huge move for the Rangers and just the thing they needed to help revive last year's struggling offense.  

The Rangers trading away a middle infielder was a move that was bound to happen. Following the promotion of highly touted shortstop Jurickson Profar this season, the Rangers struggled to find time to include him in the lineup with shortstop Elvis Andrus and second baseman Ian Kinsler.

Now Kinsler is the odd man out and Profar appears to have found a spot in the Rangers' everyday lineup.

Here is what the move means for the Rangers heading into the 2014 season.

 

The Future of Mitch Moreland Is Now in Question

The person who will be most affected by this trade in a negative way could be first baseman Mitch Moreland. After getting off to a hot start in 2013, Moreland finished the season hitting just .232 with 23 homers and 60 RBI.

While Moreland could remain in the lineup as the team's everyday first baseman, Prince Fielder is coming off one of his best defensive years.

Their defensive stats last year were eerily similar, but Moreland's late-season struggles could be reason enough for Texas to move him. Moreland played first base for the Rangers in 146 games last season, committing only five errors while posting a .996 fielding percentage.

For the Tigers, Fielder played a total of 151 games at first base, committing just six errors while posting a .995 fielding percentage. 

Fielder hit .279 for the Tigers last season, belting 25 homers while driving in 106 RBI. His on-base percentage of .362 was the 28th-highest in the majors last season, with Adrian Beltre being the only other Ranger in the league with a top-30 on-base percentage in 2013.

It's hard to say exactly what the Texas could opt to do with Moreland since the offseason is still in its early stages.

A few more offensive signings could easily force Texas to move Moreland to another team or use him off the bench.

 

Jurickson Profar Appears to Be the New 2B

The trade debate surrounding Jurickson Profar should now officially end. Once thought to be the odd man out in Texas, Profar's emergence as the team's new second baseman should be solidified with the trade of Kinsleror at least it appears that way.

Profar played in just 85 games for the Rangers last season, hitting .234 with six homers and 26 RBI. Now that he has the opportunity to play every day, he should see a rise in all those numbers.

It's hard for most hitters to find their rhythm at the plate when receiving spotty play like Profar received in 2013. Through four seasons in the minors, Profar was a lifetime .276 hitter with a .367 on-base percentage. He also managed to swipe 53 bases throughout his time in the minors, being caught only 17 times.

In addition to those numbers, of his 361 career hits in the minors, 140 of them went for extra bases.

Profar has played in just 37 games at second base for the Rangers since 2012. His .972 fielding percentage at the position leaves much to be desired, but with so few opportunities at the position, a few errors are expected.

With the chance to play the position on an everyday basis now, expect Profar's fielding percentage at second base to improve next season and beyond.

 

The Lineup Still Has Room for Improvement

Hard to believe, but it's true. Texas could still bring in players to boast one of the best lineups in baseball in 2014.

Nelson Cruz, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury still remain free agents in the outfield, and the signing of a solid designated hitter or catcher could still come into play.  

The Rangers still have money to play with given that the Tigers will be sending $30 million their way as part of the trade agreements. Texas will likely pursue Cruz or Choo to fill one of its voids in the outfield, and ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes reports that the team is still very much in the hunt for Brian McCann.

If the Rangers do sign McCann, don't expect Cruz or Choo to be seen in a Rangers uniform next season. McCann hit .256 for the Atlanta Braves last season, 21 points shy of his lifetime average of .277.

While his average has been down from his career numbers over the last two seasons, he has still managed to hit 20 homers over that span. His home run numbers are right on par with what he has done for most of his career and there's no reason to believe that the soon-to-be 30-year-old is near a decline just yet. 

 

Trade for a Pitcher Appears Unlikely

Most people thought a trade by the Rangers would likely mean the team adding a big arm to the rotation. Texas doesn't have another player on its roster who appears to be on the trading block as it stands.

Even if the Rangers do make a trade for a pitcher, they will need to send a high-caliber player out in order to receive a pitcher who is better than who they have right now.

Yu Darvish will anchor the staff for the second consecutive year, something that is expected out of any pitcher who finished second in Cy Young voting the previous season.  

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Following Darvish in the rotation will likely be Derek Holland and Martin Perez. Holland turned in a solid performance last year, going 10-9 with a 3.42 ERA while striking out 189 batters. Fellow lefty Perez also posted a solid campaign in 2013, so much so that that Rangers opted to sign him to a four-year extension this offseason.

If Matt Harrison can come back healthy next season, he and Alexi Ogando could round out the last two starting spots in the rotation.  

Harrison's health is certainly a big concern for Texas heading into next season, as the veteran lefty spent nearly the entire season on the disabled list thanks to a herniated disk. The Rangers fully expect Harrison to be healthy heading into next season, which would easily bolster the bottom half of their rotation.  

Harrison has a 48-32 career record with the Rangers and a career ERA of 4.15. Prior to 2013, he saw a drop in his ERA in both 2011 and 2012, and in return saw his win total increase over both of those seasons.   

Not many people expected the Rangers to go out and trade for Prince Fielder, so anything is possible for the Rangers at this point. Perhaps they'll pull another surprising move and trade for a big arm like some expected, but I'd expect them to stay satisfied with the staff they currently have.

 

All stats and info courtesy of MLB.com, DallasNews.com, SportsIllustrated.CNN.com, Baseball-Reference.com, NBCSports.com and ESPN.com.

Follow Zachary on Twitter at @ZacharyKrueger.

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