SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 24: Barry Zito #75 of the San Francisco Giants leads first base aginst Prince Fielder #28 of the Detroit Tigers in the fourth inning during Game One of the Major League Baseball World Series at AT&T Park on October 24, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Prince Fielder's acquisition by the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler is a big deal, there's no doubt about it. It kicks off the baseball offseason in a big way, and Fielder seems like great return for Kinsler.
But obviously, there's a reason the Tigers wanted to trade Fielder and rid two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera of his protection in their lineup. So, as if with any trade, there usually is no clear-cut winner. So let's take a look at the pros and cons of the deal that was finalized late Wednesday.
Power — The biggest goal for the Rangers this winter was to add power to their lineup, but Fielder's name was never brought up. Fielder has more power than any of the names that were out there on the market and is one of the most feared power hitters in the game, averaging 35 home runs in his eight full seasons in the bigs, despite his career-low 25 in 2013. He'll be a really nice addition in the Rangers' lineup, hitting either third or fourth.
Durability — This might surprise some folks given Fielder's robust stature, but he's actually baseball's current iron man as the owner of the longest streak of consecutive games played. Dating back to 2009, Fielder has missed exactly one game, in 2010. That's it. He's been a lock for 162 games ever since.
Protection — This goes along with his nice addition to the Rangers lineup, but consider this: Fielder has hit behind an MVP for the past three seasons — Ryan Braun in 2011 and Miguel Cabrera in 2012 and 2013.
Value — The Tigers' main reason for parting ways with Fielder is most likely to free up money so they can extend their Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer. But, they also sent $30 million to the Rangers in the deal to help pay his remaining salary, which is $24 million per year for the next seven seasons. It basically amounts to $19 million and change per year out of the Rangers' pockets for Fielder. Imagine if Fielder were a free agent. He'd get more than that on the market. Despite what it might seem, this is good value for the Rangers.
Attitude — This is all speculation, but some people have questioned Fielder's attitude. After the Tigers were eliminated from the postseason in the ALCS this October, Fielder was quoted as saying it wasn't a big deal. He also went through a nasty, public divorce this year that has been listed as a possible factor for his career-worst season.
Weight — Fielder is pushing 300 pounds, and history isn't kind to those type of baseball players. It's pretty much certain that guys like Fielder hit a sharp decline at age 31. Fielder is 29 and is coming off a career-worst season, but even that would've been the second-best hitter on the Rangers. But maybe Fielder isn't the average big man. He's extremely durable and is actually pretty fleet on his feet for a big guy. But still, it's a concern.
Glove — Fielder isn't a great first baseman. And depending on who you might ask, he's not even a good first baseman. He's definitely a downgrade at first base, defensively, from Mitch Moreland.
Overall, on the surface, this is a great deal for the Rangers. But like any deal, there's a reason that players was dealt and there's the possibility for things to go poorly. But the Rangers addressed two big needs in this deal — acquiring a serious power threat and also opening up their middle infield logjam.