One smart trade doesn't negate two bad contracts

Jim Rogash

Wednesday night, our man Brisbee explained why Wednesday's blockbuster Rangers/Tigers trade makes sense for both teams. Thursday morning, Grant explored some of the ripple effects of the deal. Which is all well and good. But I want my turn! So if you'll indulge me, a few thoughts pegged to ESPN.com's summary of the deal ...

Fielder, 29, hit .279 with 25 homers and 106 RBIs in 2013, his second season in Detroit. He gives the Rangers a power-hitting, left-handed hitter for the middle of their lineup, something Daniels listed as the top priority heading into the offseason.

"He fits what we're looking for -- a middle-of-the-order power threat that is durable and plays to win," Daniels said. "He's a good complement with Adrian Beltre in the middle of our order."

He plays to win? You mean like this? Seriously, I don't have any idea what that means. If it means he wants to win and generally tries to win ... well, okay. But that does describe 90-some percent of the players in professional sports generally, and in baseball specifically. Fielder is durable, and he does complement the righty-hitting Beltre well.

Daniels added that Fielder will be the primary first baseman and that the club is still figuring out Mitch Moreland's role.

Hoo-boy. Really? Prince Fielder is a terrible first baseman. Really terrible. Granted, there's some wiggle room in the definition of "primary" and anyway Daniels might be blowing smoke or might change his mind. But when it comes to players with huge contracts, we should probably take general managers at their word. Dave Dombrowski said Fielder was his first baseman and Cabrera his third baseman, and by gosh that's exactly what they've been. Defensive efficiency be damned. So when Daniels says Fielder's going to play a lot of first base even though he was born to DH, I believe him. Which might cost the Rangers two or three wins.

The Tigers get a three-time All-Star second baseman and someone who has hit in various parts of the lineup. Kinsler, 31, batted .277 with 13 homers and 72 RBIs last season.

Kinsler still has four years and $62 million guaranteed remaining on his contract. That includes a $5 million buyout on his club option for 2018.

As someone pointed out to me, Kinsler's got a lifetime .304 batting average at Rangers Ballpark, but .242 everywhere else. Comerica Park is a hitter's park these days, but between leaving Arlington and his advancing years, Kinsler isn't going to look like the same hitter that he's been.

Someone else suggested Wednesday night that this trade proves that no contract is untradeable.

No, it doesn't. Or it does, but we didn't need more proof. The Rockies proved it a long time ago when they somehow traded Mike Hampton. If you're willing to eat enough money or you can find another team with a similarly bad contract, there's always a deal to be made. But that doesn't mean the original contract goes away; it just means you're going to pay the costs in a different way.

The Detroit Tigers originally committed to spending $214 million for nine years of Prince Fielder's professional services. Now they're committed to spending $138 million for two years of Fielder and four years of Ian Kinsler. Which is $23 million per season for Fieldsler. Which is silly.

The Texas Rangers originally committed to spending $75 million for five years of Ian Kinsler's services. This would have seemed smart at the time, if not for Jurickson Profar's impending arrival and Elvis Andrus's long-term contract. Now they're committed to spending $138 million for seven years of Fielder. Which is silly.

Yes, I understand that both clubs are better now than last year, because there's room for the kids -- Profar in the Metroplex, Nick Castellanos in the Motor City -- in the lineups. And yes, maybe both teams' defenses are better ... but only if the Rangers don't play Fielder at first base regularly, and the Tigers finally get Cabrera off third base. So no guarantees there.

This seems like a smart deal for both teams, and especially the Tigers. But that shouldn't make us forget how silly both contracts were in the first place. Especially Fielder's.

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