We have the first major trade of the offseason. The Tigers sent first baseman Prince Fielder to the Rangers straight up for second baseman Ian Kinsler. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports had the news.
The Tigers will send cash ($30 million according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan) in the deal to make up some of the difference in salaries. Detroit will save $76 million in the deal.
The deal, which still has to be approved by MLB, is interesting on many levels. The Tigers are expected to move Miguel Cabrera to first base, where he will be less of a defensive liability, and play prospect Nick Castellanos at third base,
This also opens up salary space for Detroit to sign righthander Max Scherzer to an extension, or at least try to. Cabrera also will need an extension after 2015.
The Rangers get the bat they badly needed in Fielder and can play prime-time prospect Jurickson Profar at second base. He had been blocked at shortstop by Elvis Andrus.
What does this mean for the Red Sox?
• The Rangers will no longer have an interest in first baseman Mike Napoli. Of all the Red Sox free agents, Napoli has always seemed like the most likely to return. This could help clinch that.
• The Rangers could perhaps be less inclined to make a big play for catcher Brian McCann now that they have invested so heavily in Fielder. It’s uncertain to what degree the Red Sox would extend themselves for McCann. But the trade could help sharpen up that picture a little.
• Jacoby Ellsbury will be impacted by this deal. The Rangers essentially get Fielder for seven years and $138 million. That is pretty much the kind of deal they could have given Ellsbury. Now that the Rangers have Fielder, Ellsbury could have one fewer option. Texas has several outfield prospects and no great need of Ellsbury anyway.
• It’s interesting how long-term deals for first basemen have generated buyer’s remorse. The Red Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez last year. Now the Tigers have dealt Fielder. Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard and Mark Teixeira have albatross contracts that their respective teams would love to be free of.
The Red Sox model of signing a player like Napoli looks smarter and smarter. Napoli has flaws, but he’s a bargain compared to those other first basemen.