The Detroit Tigers really didn't have a choice. The Tigers were given a chance to move Prince Fielder and they had to take it. According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Tigers have traded Fielder to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler.
The move makes sense for both teams, but especially for Detroit. First and foremost, the Tigers are getting out from underneath the $168 million that was owed to Fielder over the next seven years. For a player who might have started showing signs of decline in 2013, Detroit couldn't take a chance that he would be worse next season.
Fielder's OPS dropped from .940 to .819 for the third season in a row. For a slugging first baseman, that is a huge warning sign. Fielder's offensive numbers in 2013 dropped across the board, from his average to OBP to his home runs.
There are other numerous benefits for the Tigers coming out of this deal as well.
Trading Fielder also allows MVP Miguel Cabrera to move back across the diamond and take over first base. Given Cabrera's injuries this past season, moving back to first should serve to extend his career. Moving to first might also allow the Tigers to bring Jhonny Peralta back to play third base.
Lastly, the Tigers are getting a really good player back in Kinsler. Kinsler can slide into the leadoff spot and take over second base, making the Tigers stronger up the middle. This deal will lead to a newly revamped infield featuring Jose Iglesias, which will allow the Tigers to turn their defense—a weakness in 2013—into a strength in 2014.
Kinsler could thrive playing in front of Cabrera and playing in Detroit.
For the Rangers, the return on Fielder is a little more of a gamble. The Tigers are sending $30 million back to Texas along with Fielder, making his seven-year deal $138 million. That would be pretty reasonable for Fielder if he was hitting free agency this winter.
Texas needed to address offense this winter, and instead of signing Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo to a mega-deal, they opted to gamble on Fielder and avoid surrendering a compensation pick as well. After losing Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli last winter, the Rangers needed to add a hitter to the middle of the order.
The Rangers have an immediate replacement for Kinsler with prospect Jurickson Profar and will slide Fielder into the middle of the lineup.
If the Rangers are really fortunate, Fielder will use this deal as a personal wake-up call to start taking his weight and conditioning far more seriously this winter. Fielder's struggles in the past two postseasons, where he has produced only 18 hits in 92 at-bats with only one home run and three runs batted in, have only underscored his slight decline in numbers.
Both teams will likely benefit from this deal, but tonight the Tigers have to be ecstatic.