Fantasy Baseball

Fielder for Kinsler – Fantasy Impact

The trade was announced on Wednesday evening that the Detroit Tigers have agreed to a trade with the Texas Rangers, exchanging first baseman Prince Fielder for second baseman Ian Kinsler.  While full details of the trade have yet to be announced, let’s take a look at the principle people in the trade and the others who may benefit from such a move.

Prince Fielder loses the protection of one of the greatest players in the game today, but he gains a beautiful home park that balls love to fly out of.  He should bat third or fourth so the RBI opportunities will be there, and the 30+ home run power which was in hiatus last year should return.  More than likely they’ll sandwich him between Alex Rios and Adrian Beltre so he should score 80 runs at minimum.  The biggest obstacle for Fielder will be the road games verse Seattle and Oakland as the Metrodome was like kryptonite for him.  From a fantasy stand point Fielder’s value remains the same, but nobody would fault you for bumping up or down a few spots based upon your own feelings.

Ian Kinsler is the biggest loser in this whole scenario in my opinion.  Take a look at his career home and away splits and judge for yourself.

Home 2070 434 630 85 293 92 304 387 898
Away 2131 314 515 71 246 80 242 312 710

Kinsler holds a career batting average of .304 in Texas, but on the road it falls to a paltry .242.  In fact all of his numbers are down away from Texas.  Not all of them are as pronounced as his batting average, but they should give you pause.   He should be batting first or second so the opportunity to steal bases will be there, and even with a low BA he walks enough to where he should score around 75 runs.  On the down side his batting average will probably be in the .250 neighborhood and I wouldn’t expect more than 17 home runs (and be happy if he comes close to that).

That kind of production moves him closer to the bracket with Ben Zobrist who was drafted in round 7 of our recent mock draft.  I’m not saying Kinsler is not longer valuable, he’s just not worth the fourth round pick where he would be taken if he were in Texas.  Kinsler turns 32 in June and it’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks, but he’s going to have to find a way to boost his production away from the comphy confines of Arlington and prove he wasn’t a product of his environment.

Jurickson Profar was going into the season qualifying at three positions; problem is they were all occupied.  With Kinsler now shipped out-of-town Profar will be virtually guaranteed full-time at bats as he will be given every chance to succeed at second.  The job security increases Profar’s draft value, what he does with the opportunity remains to be seen.  He struggled upon his promotion last year; hopefully with full-time at bats he can find some consistency.  He should eventually hit for a decent average and has double-digit power and speed.  He may part of the future in Texas, but at 21 years old you I would temper my expectations for 2014.

Nick Edmundo Castellanos could benefit from this trade as well.  He primarily played third base in the minors, but because of the presence of Miguel Cabrera was forced to transition to the outfield.  With first base open the Tigers have two options available to them.  They could give Castellanos a shot at playing first base or they could ask Cabrera to move back to first and give the third base job to Castellanos.  All of this is speculation, but for a team that is trying to lower its payroll it makes the most sense.  There is a third option where Detroit signs someone else to play first, but we’ll address that when/if it happens.  If Nickmundo (my new name for him) gets a shot at a full-time job he becomes fantasy relevant.  He has struggled with his batting average, but he draws enough walks to keep a respectable OBP.  He could struggle to start or he could pull a Will Middlebrooks and surprise people and exceed expectations.  He’s worth a late round flyer if he’s going to qualify for third, but for a first baseman I might pass as the talent at that position is deep.

Mitch Moreland is the odd man out here.  He played the outfield in the past so he could move there, but he only played right field and Alex Rios isn’t going anywhere.  They could move Rios to left which is doubtful, so unless Moreland can play left he’s going to have to settle for DH duty or ride the pine.  Moreland can hit 20+ home runs but his BA is mediocre at best, and there are plenty of outfielders that fit this mold in fantasy.

From a baseball stand point this trade makes sense.  The Rangers get a reliable power hitting first baseman that they were in need of and free up a position for one of their elite prospects.  Detroit gets some salary relief to potentially keep their pitching staff intact and upgrades at second over Infante.  They lose a big bat at first but could either fill the role internally or try to sign someone like Mike Napoli, Corey Hart or Michael Morse.  It’s rare to see a trade that benefits both teams and this is one of those instances.

From a fantasy stand point Profar is the biggest winner while his former teammate Kinsler could potentially turn out to be the biggest loser.  Bump Profar up a few spots on your draft board, Kinsler down a few spots and take a flyer in Castellanos in the final rounds.  For those of you in keeper leagues, I’d be shopping Kinsler if I could and use the Cabrera protection as your selling point.  He could prove me wrong but judging by his track record….. I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Post your comments below on what you think of the Fielder/Kinsler trade.

By Jim Finch

The self proclaimed Grand High Exhausted Mystic Ruler of Fantasy Baseball. While I am not related to Jennie or Sidd Finch, I will attempt to uphold the integrity of the Finch family name as it relates to baseball.