Daily Dose: Trading PlacesFriday, November 22, 2013
Everything is bigger in Texas. That includes the first basemen.
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The Rangers and Tigers turned the Hot Stove on high Wednesday when the Tigers sent Prince Fielder to the Rangers in exchange for Ian Kinsler. The Tigers will also pay the Rangers $30 million on the back end of the deal to help offset some of Fielder's remaining $168 million over the final seven years of his deal.
The effects of the trade are numerous. The first and most obvious is with the players doing the relocating. Through Fielder's first six full seasons with the Brewers he averaged 38 home runs per season; in his two years with the Tigers, that number dropped to 27.5. His slugging percentage in 2013 was 70 points below his career average.
Perhaps the biggest reason to believe in a Prince resurgence is his new home park. Whereas Comerica Field was generally neutral by Fangraphs' Park Factors, the Rangers Ballpark at Arlington was the sixth-best park for home runs by left-handed hitters in 2013. It's not a coincidence that another left-handed hitter, Josh Hamilton, blasted 43 homers last year in the same park. Fielder's friendly confines just got friendlier. And he'll resume a similar role to the one he had with the Tigers, meaning he'll still have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs in the middle of the order. Fielder is still "just" 29 and should have a plenty more left in the tank, so a modest rebound can be expected.
As in Texas, Kinsler will likely be the everyday second baseman and hit near the top of the Tigers' lineup. The Tigers still have reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera and a nice supporting cast, meaning Kinsler will be in line to score plenty of runs if he's able to get on base. And there's no reason the 31-year-old won't continue to do that well.
The ripples extend to the players who may now be in line for expanded roles in the absence of their former teammates. In Texas, that's Jurickson Profar, who, with Kinsler no longer occupying second base, should see everyday at-bats at one of the middle infield spots. Profar struggled last season in his first extended time at the major league level, but he'll play the entire 2014 season as a 21-year-old and he was a .276/.367/.449 hitter in the minors and should acclimate before long.
For the Tigers, the player who likely stands to benefit the most from Fielder's departure is another prospect, Nick Castellanos. The 21-year-old Castellanos came up as a third baseman but moved to the outfield when Cabrera switched to third to accommodate Fielder's arrival in 2012. Now, Cabrera is free to move -- slowly and with some effort, as it were -- back to first base, creating a vacancy at the hot corner. Enter Castellanos, the 2012 Futures Game MVP and No. 21 prospect in baseball before this season according to Baseball America. Castellanos hit .276/.343/.450 with Triple-A Toledo this past year and will be ready for his major league debut sooner than later. With nobody in his way, it could be Castellanos' time.
The other obvious effect the deal has is on the trade and free agent markets. Profar and Elvis Andrus, both players rumored to be available via trade before Wednesday, will now likely be staying put, despite FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal saying both would still be dealt for the right price. And with the Tigers' second base position filled, free agents like Omar Infante and others will have to find a new suitor.
Jason Vargas found a suitor Thursday, and he won't need to look for another one for four years.
Vargas and the Royals agreed on a four-year, $32 million deal that will keep him in Kansas City until he's 34. The southpaw was able to land the deal after going 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 109/46 K/BB ratio in 150 innings with the Angels last year.
It's another (relatively) low-risk, low-reward move for the Royals in the vein of the Jeremy Guthrie signing last offseason. And being a homer-prone pitcher, Vargas played to his strength -- the Royals' Kauffman Stadium is one of the more pitcher-friendly parks in baseball when it comes to home runs.
The surroundings may be new, but very little else about Vargas is likely to change. He'll provide innings and little else, likely posting a modest ERA and generally boring fantasy profile. If you liked Vargas in Anaheim, you'll like Vargas in Kansas City.
National League Quick Hits: The Rockies signed 40-year-old LaTroy Hawkins to a one-year deal to be the team's closer. It's bad news for fans of Rex Brothers, whose time as closer seemingly will never come ... the Phillies re-signed Carlos Ruiz to a three-year deal worth $26 million ... Josh Johnson will call Petco Park home next year after inking a one-year, $8 million deal with the Padres ... the Giants added veteran experience to their rotation in 38-year-old Tim Hudson. The sides entered into a two-year, $23 million contract earlier this week ... the Cardinals have discussed David Freese with the Angels. The Cardinals would likely have interest in Peter Bourjos, though no parameters have officially been learned ... Ike Davis' name continues to come up as a guy who could be traded ... Chase Headley, too.
American League Quick Hits: Alex Rodriguez' appeal hearing for his 211-game suspension ended Thursday, with A-Rod noticeably absent. It's a look the Yankees should get used to ... the Twins are willing to offer Bronson Arroyo a three-year deal. The 37-year-old should have his choice of suitors as the offseason progresses ... Lance Berkman is leaning toward retiring. The 37-year-old played just 73 games with the Rangers last season due to injury ... Robinson Cano's representatives -- you know, Jay Z -- met with the Mets earlier in the week. It's still a very long shot that the two sides will prove to be a match.