Skip to content

The Tigers and Rangers trade is just as much about past mistakes as it is about current need

Nov 21, 2013, 5:34 AM EDT

In case you missed the big news last night, the Tigers traded Prince Fielder to Texas for Ian Kinsler. Detroit is sending along around $30 million. The net result: the Tigers get Kinsler and about $70 million in salary relief, the Rangers get seven years of Fielder and a $138 million bill for his services.

I’m inclined to agree with Matthew on the overall assessment here. I think the Rangers get better in the short term, as Fielder can be expected to hit better in Texas, be it from just a natural bounceback year or three or be it from a more hitter-friendly ballpark. They also free up a permanent position for Jurickson Profar, and that’s good too.  On the whole, though, I think the Tigers did better for themselves by freeing up that money and getting Miguel Cabrera off third base and over to first. That said, each team had different goals here and each team, at least on paper, accomplished their goals, so a pure “winner-loser” axis here is kind of dumb.

But a trade like this, so clearly based on (1) the Tigers wanting to get out from under a big contract; and (2) the Rangers wanting to add some pop at first base, speaks just as much to these teams’ past mistakes as it does to their current needs and goals.

The Tigers signed Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million deal. His trade clearly indicates that they don’t think he’s worth that now, even if they thought so two years ago. That kind of regret over big contracts is pretty widespread these days. The Angels are likely wishing they hadn’t given big, long deals to Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. The Yankees clearly regret the Alex Rodriguez deal. Joe Mauer‘s deal runs through 2018 and, given that he’s no longer a catcher, it can’t make the Twins brass feel great. Mark Teixeira‘s deal is a drag. Matt Kemp might crumble into dust before he’s halfway into his $160 million contract.  The list goes on and on.

While long, rich deals to players who have yet to reach free agency may turn out to be good ones — deals like those given to Joey Votto and Felix Hernandez — and while long-term extensions to players teams have developed and thus got the advantage of their cheap years make a bit more economic sense, recent baseball history has shown that the bulk of these $150 million+ contracts are awful. Especially ones given to guys who actually reached free agency before signing. The last truly great one that was given out was probably Derek Jeter‘s $189 million deal. That’s the exception, not the rule. Yet teams continue to give them out. Someone will give one out to Robinson Cano this season. In a couple of years it’ll look bad too and everyone will wonder why it seemed to damn important to unload the money truck for him now.

The Rangers acquisition of an expensive power-hitting first baseman speaks of other mistakes. Specifically, letting cheap power-hitting first basemen leave. They dealt Chris Davis in 2011 and all he’s done since then is hit 33 and then 53 homers for Baltimore. Many years before that they let Adrian Gonzalez go. Now, to make room for Fielder, Mitch Moreland is probably gonna go on the block. I’m not suggesting that he’s the next Chris Davis or Adrian Gonzalez, but either the Rangers ability to develop raw-but-powerful first basemen into good everyday players is lacking or their judgment about when such guys will naturally peak is off. I guess you’d have to ask Jon Daniels what he thinks about that.

Either way, the Tigers now get a do-over on the biggest contract they’ve ever handed out. The Rangers get someone to occupy first base and the cleanup spot, albeit at great cost. Will either of these teams be more reluctant to hand out gigantic deals to free agents and/or cut bait on young power as a result? One would hope so.

Latest Posts
  1. Jimmy Rollins’ $11 million option for 2015 will vest tonight

    Jul 25, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT

    Miami Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies Getty Images

    Rollins also has the ability to block any potential trade, so even if contending teams think having him locked into place for 2015 adds to their interest level it may be a moot point.

  2. HBT Daily: The induction of Maddux, Glavine and Thomas is a rebuke to the Steroid Era

    Jul 25, 2014, 11:33 AM EDT

    Frank Thomas

    They are obviously deserving of induction, but their induction also serves some political ends too.

  3. First impressions of a skinny kid named Greg Maddux

    Jul 25, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

    Greg Maddux

    Greg Maddux looked like a guy who should be riding a Metra commuter train to his 9-to-5 job in the Loop, maybe sneaking out later to catch a Cubs game and have a few beers at Wrigley Field.

  4. Ruben Amaro denies that the Phillies have considered releasing Ryan Howard

    Jul 25, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT

    Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals Getty Images

    OK, we’ll just accept that you have not at least talked about taking one of the few options you have regarding Howard, Ruben.

  5. Kyle Gibson “doubtful” to make Saturday start due to back injury

    Jul 25, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT

    Kyle Gibson Twins Getty Images

    Kyle Gibson has had an up-and-down first full season for the Twins and now he may wind up on the disabled list with a back injury.

  6. Mariners call up Triple-A shortstop Chris Taylor to push struggling Brad Miller

    Jul 25, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    Brad Miller AP

    After a huge spring training that won him the Mariners’ starting shortstop job Brad Miller has struggled mightily, hitting .205 with a .599 OPS and 74/25 K/BB ratio in 86 games.

  7. Brandon Belt is showing no improvement

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:57 AM EDT

    brandon belt getty Getty Images

    Injuries are mounting for the first place Giants.

  8. Must-click link: Johnny Damon seems lost without baseball

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:34 AM EDT

    damon ap AP

    A great, great ballplayer seems to be in denial about his career being over.

  9. Joe Nathan makes the case to keep his job

    Jul 25, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 8.45.19 AM AP

    With Joakim Soria watching from the sidelines, the Tigers embattled closer shuts down one of the best offenses in baseball.

  10. Ryan Raburn: you are not supposed to spike the baseball, dude

    Jul 25, 2014, 7:17 AM EDT

    Raburn spike

    Ryan Raburn is gonna be buying Corey Kluber steaks for the foreseeable future.

  11. And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

    Jul 25, 2014, 6:47 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 6.46.57 AM Getty Images

    It was a day of blowouts and fine pitching performances.

  12. Report: Yankees talking to Padres about a deal for Ian Kennedy

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:19 PM EDT

    f9709064dc0d3dbba119326284ff6ded AP

    The Yankees are reportedly considering a reunion with right-hander Ian Kennedy.

  13. Jonathan Papelbon to Phillies fans: Bring on the boos

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:18 PM EDT

    201b75e51f895253777b6c9537344e55 Getty Images

    Jonathan Papelbon was booed by Phillies fans this afternoon, but it didn’t bother him. In fact, he says bring it on.

  14. The Astros are hesitant to trade Chad Qualls

    Jul 24, 2014, 10:20 PM EDT

    Chad Qualls Getty Getty Images

    Chad Qualls quietly owns a 1.78 ERA this season. The Astros are reluctant to deal him.

  15. Picture of the Day: Dallas Keuchel has a clever message for a heckler

    Jul 24, 2014, 9:25 PM EDT

    Dallas Keuchel AP AP

    Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel tossed a baseball to a heckler during today’s game against the Athletics. And the ball contained a clever message.

  16. MLBPA files grievance against Astros in regard to draft pick situation

    Jul 24, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    astros logo

    When the Astros failed to agree to terms with No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken earlier this month, many speculated that the next step would be a grievance against the team from the MLBPA. That’s exactly what has happened.

  17. The Mariners are interested in Drew Stubbs

    Jul 24, 2014, 7:35 PM EDT

    Drew Stubbs Getty Getty Images

    The Mariners brought back Kendrys Morales in a deal with the Twins today, but they aren’t done attempting to upgrade.

  18. Report: Phillies “working hard” to trade Ryan Howard

    Jul 24, 2014, 7:09 PM EDT

    Ryan Howard AP AP

    The Phillies appear ready to move on from Ryan Howard.

  19. Yankees acquire left-hander Chris Capuano from the Rockies

    Jul 24, 2014, 6:31 PM EDT

    Chris Capuano Getty Getty Images

    Yankees general manager Brian Cashman continues to stay busy.

Featured video

Three legends off to Cooperstown
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. H. Street (3519)
  2. T. Tulowitzki (3284)
  3. C. Headley (2852)
  4. R. Howard (2746)
  5. H. Ramirez (2743)
  1. Y. Puig (2731)
  2. B. Belt (2618)
  3. C. Lee (2508)
  4. M. Trout (2357)
  5. J. Soria (2208)