Explaining why Prince Fielder was traded by the Detroit Tigers
The Tigers reached the World Series two seasons ago and the ALCS last season with Fielder on the roster. He still had seven years and $168 million left on the original 9-year contract he signed with them before the 2012 season. He also protected Miguel Cabrera in the lineup and gave the Tigers a devastating 1-2 punch in the middle of the order.
So why did Detroit decide to deal Fielder? There are multiple explanations.
1) Fielder had a sub-par season last year. His 25 home runs and .819 OPS were his worst marks since his rookie season. He hit just .225 without driving in a run in 11 postseason games. In 24 career postseason games with the Tigers, Prince only had one home run and three RBIs. Maybe his poor postseason performance convinced the Tigers he was expendable.
2) Fielder’s casual attitude after the Tigers were eliminated from the playoffs didn’t sit well with the organization, per Buster Olney. Let’s just say Prince didn’t take the playoff loss quite as hard as the fans.
“You have to be a man about it,” Fielder said. “I have kids. If I’m sitting around pouting about it, how am I going to tell them to keep their chins or keep their heads up when something doesn’t go their way? It’s over.
“It isn’t really tough, man, for me [to move on]. It’s over. I have kids I have to take care of, so, for me it’s over, bro.”
Told fans may be upset to hear him shake off a disappointing loss so quickly, Fielder said: “They don’t play.”
3) Trading Fielder allows Cabrera to move back to first.
Prince playing first base and Victor Martinez DHing meant Miggy had to play third base. Per Jerry Crasnick, the Tigers are concerned he can’t play third anymore. This wasn’t an issue in 2012 because Martinez was out for the season, which is why the team signed Prince in a panic move. With Martinez back, the Tigers had to figure out a way to get all three of their big bats in the lineup, which left them sacrificing on the defensive end. Trading Prince for Kinsler allows Miggy to move back to first.
4) Trading Fielder and the $168 million he was owed (they are paying the Rangers $30 million to take the contract) allows them financial flexibility to retain other key players. Max Scherzer will be a free agent after next season, and the Tigers would likely want to bring their Cy Young Award winner back. Cabrera will be a free agent after the 2015 season and will likely command big money. Kinsler’s deal saves the Tigers 39 million over the next four seasons.
Also – Bob Nightengale says the Tigers desperately wanted speed, which is something Kinsler gives them.
But don’t feel badly for Prince. He still gets to earn $168 million guaranteed over the next seven seasons. He’s still going to a good, competitive team. And Prince reportedly didn’t like hitting in the spacious Comerica Park, so batting in Arlington will likely be a huge benefit for him.