The Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers have agreed on a trade that will send Prince Fielder to Texas in exchange for Ian Kinsler, first reported by CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan noted that the St. Louis Cardinals were rumored to have coveted either Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar, but they may now find the Rangers unwilling to part with either.
The Cardinals' desire to upgrade the team at shortstop this offseason has been one of the most discussed topics surrounding the team, including this article from CBS Sports' Heyman. The Texas Rangers, and their surplus of middle infield depth, have often come up in those discussions. Heyman's article mentioned Elvis Andrus as a possible target. Jurickson Profar's potential arrival in St. Louis was also discussed. Either player seemed logical when examining both teams' needs.
The Rangers could deal either player and simply hand the shortstop job to the other. Trading Andrus would allow the Rangers to relieve themselves of some salary obligations. Profar was not as dominant as the team had hoped he would be upon his arrival to the big leagues in 2013; sending him out would give a vote of confidence to Andrus going forward.
The Rangers had a clear need for a power bat, either at first base or as a designated hitter. Matt Adams seemed to fit either of those needs quite well. Meanwhile, Shelby Miller is a young, powerful pitcher who is originally from Texas. The Cardinals have depth in the pitching staff, and Miller was rumored to be available in the right deal, according to Joe Strauss of StlToday.com:
With Carlos Martinez meriting a look-see as a starter — and Rosenthal wanting the same — it’s increasingly likely that general manager John Mozeliak shops Lance Lynn or Shelby Miller to simultaneously create an opening while addressing a core need at shortstop.
The acquisition of Prince Fielder throws a wrench into the ability to acquire a player from Texas. The Rangers will likely no longer have an interest in Matt Adams. In addition, the trade of Kinsler will allow them to play Profar at second base and retain both of the pieces that the Cardinals would be interested in.
One option that could regenerate the talks between Texas and St. Louis would be if the Cardinals would be willing to include Kolten Wong in the discussions. The young second baseman would allow the Rangers to deal either Profar or Andrus and remain set in the middle infield. A package centered around Wong and Adams might be the starting point if the discussions are to begin anew.
It is safe to assume that the Fielder trade may very well have ended the Cardinals' pursuit of a Texas shortstop and moved them on to other targets. There has been speculation, courtesy of Passan, Heyman and this from Peter Gammons on Gammons Daily that the Cardinals are interested in free agents Stephen Drew, Oakland's Jed Lowrie, Baltimore's J.J. Hardy and Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki, just to name a few.
The shopping list for a future shortstop for the Cardinals likely just got shorter, and the names may have come right off the top of the list.
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