The Rangers tried but failed to sign Prince Fielder as a free agent after the 2011 season. Two years later they got their man in a blockbuster trade with the Tigers in which they surrendered second baseman Ian Kinsler.
As an added bonus, the Rangers get Fielder at a discount, because the Tigers are kicking in $30 million in the deal. That subsidy effectively reduces Texas’ commitment to the 29-year-old first baseman to seven years and $138 million, a reduction in average annual value from $24 million per year to about $19.7 million. The Tigers will begin sending payments in 2016.
Kinsler will replace free agent second baseman Omar Infante in Detroit, and the Tigers are on the hook for four years and $62 million, once, that is, Kinsler’s $5 million buyout for 2018 is exercised.
Prince Fielder, 1b
Age: 29. Bats: L.
Remaining commitment: Seven years, $138 million, factoring in Tigers’ contribution of $30 million.
The Rangers entered the offseason seeking offense, with the likely losses of right fielder Nelson Cruz and catcher A.J. Pierzynski. The club is rumored to be interested in catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, but had long had interest in Fielder. (With Fielder batting behind him in Detroit, Miguel Cabrera enjoyed his two MVP seasons.) The trade of Kinsler allows the Rangers to play top rookie Jurickson Profar at second base while keeping Elvis Andrus rooted at shortstop. General manager Jon Daniels said the team will continue to look for another bat.
Ian Kinsler, 2b
Age: 31. Bats: R.
Remaining commitment: Four years, $62 million, factoring in $5 million buyout of 2018 option.
Prior to making this deal, the Tigers kicked around the idea of playing rookie Hernan Perez at second base to replace free agent Omar Infante. Now, if Detroit so chooses it can move top prospect Nick Castellanos back to third base and move Miguel Cabrera back to first, where he played prior to Fielder’s acquisition.