Twitter is currently blowing up in reaction to the news that the Detroit Tigers will trade 1B Prince Fielder and his mammoth contract to the Texas Rangers for 2B Ian Kinsler and his manageable contract. The details are scarce, and word is the commissioner’s office hasn’t approved the deal yet, but it’s safe to say this trade affects the AL pennant in the short term and the franchises involved in the long.
The Rangers offense last season was the worst it had been in three years. The player with the most plate appearances, Elvis Andrus, posted a weak wRC+ of 78–or, 22 percent below league average. That’s certainly part of it, but look at all of their regulars and you’ll notice a distinct lack of a lefty threat. Look at their first basemen and you’ll see even less to like. Mitch Moreland, the nominal starter, didn’t even grade a good defensive player.
The front office could either trade Andrus at the nadir of his value or they could expect a rebound in 2014. Regression is the typical mode of thought nowadays. But Moreland has never demonstrated that he’s an above-average hitter for first base. Enter Fielder. His contact is fat but the revenue landscape leaguewide is changing faster and faster. An albatross contract today might be a minor annoyance seven years from now, especially for a big-market club. Besides, a team that has won two of the last four pennants should rightly prioritize the present over the future. MIdnight Baseball’s first reaction, regarding the Rangers, is approval.