AL Powerhouses Texas and Detroit Were Motivated to be Bold; Complete Blockbuster: by Matthew Irby @irbystatman
Baseball is known for its terminologies, including some that at times don’t really make sense. Wednesday night the front office gurus of the Rangers and Tigers gave new meaning to “out of left field.” Basically meaning coming out of nowhere. The media didn’t catch wind of this deal until it was being finalized, and in fact the talks didn’t really get serious until the afternoon before. Big trades like these can take days, weeks, even months to materialize.
So how is it that arguably the two best American League teams over the past four years can trade All- Stars with big contracts in a 24 hour period?
The Rangers were motivated to add power. In 2013 we saw a new aspect of the Rangers that has been developing over the past four seasons, speed. Elvis Andrus, Leonys Martin, Craig Gentry, and Alex Rios like to run and run often. But what improved in that department the Rangers lost in power, and scoring only 730 runs, their lowest total since 1994 (1995 the Rangers scored 691 runs, but the season was shortened due to Baseball’s Strike). Yet the Rangers won 91 games in 2013, because of pitching. Well the good pitching is back and now they add some offense.
The Tigers were motivated to dump salary. Though they are tossing in $30MM ($6M a year over the last five years of the contract), they are not paying the other $138MM owed to Prince. And instead can shift that money to other needs. Atop that list Max Scherzer.
The Rangers were motivated to solve their Middle Infield Logjam. Going into the offseason the Rangers middle infield situation was Kinsler, Elvis Andrus (locked-up long term), Jurickson Profar (arguably baseball’s #1 prospect), and prospects Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor (names that the average fan will incorporate in their baseball vocab).
The Tigers were motivated to re-analyze their infield. While the likely departure of both 2013 middle infielders, Jhonny Peralta and Omar Infante, the Tigers needed to reshape their infield. With the addition of Kinsler, and the departure of Fielder the 2014 Tigers infield likely sees Miguel Cabrera moving back to first, 22-year-old prospect Nick Castellanos taking over the hot corner, and now All Star Ian Kinsler playing second base. Better defense, better speed, and a little younger.
The Rangers were motivated to be BOLD! Texas took a hammering last offseason with the departures of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, and Michael Young from the offense. Even though the 2013 season proved they are only missing one of those bearded players. It was still an offensive hit in 2013 as we all saw on the field. Texas is constantly tied to potential trades of David Price and Giancarlo Stanton, now two years after not signing him in free agency they have added the big, power bat needed at first base. They have taken on a nine-figure contract of a player who had a poor 2013 season while trading away their most tenured player. BOLD enough for you! I understand the emotional connection that many Ranger fans have/had with Kinsler, but this isn’t a business of holding onto your own chips. It’s a business that if you aren’t getting better, you’re getting worse. I will never forget what Ian Kinsler has done for the Rangers organization, but the future of this franchise is better today than it was before the trade.
The last bit I will leave you with is following through some steps, I have no definitive proof of any of this, but I hope you too can connect the dots. Two years ago the Rangers appeared to make a serious push at signing free agent 1B Prince Fielder who was coming off a .299/.415/566, 38 HRs, 120 RBI campaign in 2011. Texas never really wanted to commit more than 7 years to Fielder at the likely $22-25MM a year that was needed. Instead Texas only added a Japanese pitcher named Yu, and later extended its soon-to-be-contract-year second baseman Ian Kinsler. What if Texas signed Fielder, and early into the offseason? It could be argued that a deal with Darvish might not have gotten done, but even more so a Kinsler extension would not have gotten done. But today, essentially the same thing has happened, except Texas is paying Prince $138MM, not $168MM.
Baseball is a funny thing. It’s funny how one pitch, one hit, one run, and even one win can make the difference. One win…something that stings in Ranger hearts from each of the past three years…ONE MORE WIN!! 2014 Projected WAR (wins above replacement) says that the Rangers with Fielder and Profar on the right side of the infield instead of Mitch Moreland and Kinsler is worth…1 more win.
Matthew Irby is a columnist for http://www.letstalkrangers.com/
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