Analyzing the Ian Kinsler/Prince Fielder trade

When things weren’t looking very good for the middle of the Tigers batting order during the winter before the 2012 season, the Tigers made a very bold move in signing slugger Prince Fielder to a whopping nine-year, $214 million contract.

The news that designated hitter Victor Martinez had a torn ACL and would miss the entire upcoming season had just broken, which led the team to making such a big move. Two years later, the Tigers had a hotshot third base prospect in Nick Castellanos who was ready for the big leagues, a healthy designated hitter in Martinez, a third baseman in Miguel Cabrera who the team wanted to move back to first base, and Fielder’s massive contract at first base. Add to the mix the fact that the team had been battling a glaring hole at second base since Placido Polanco‘s departure from Detroit following the 2009 season.

All of these circumstances opened the door for a Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler swap with the Texas Rangers, which came on November 20, 2013. The Tigers also sent over $30 million to cover a portion of the gap in salaries between the players.

As we approach two and a half seasons since the trade, which team has gotten the better end of the deal?

Those stats were from back on June 7th. They now read:

  • Kinsler: 14.6 WAR, 42 HR, 257 R, 212 RBI
  • Fielder: 0.8 WAR, 33 HR, 122 R, 155 RBI

In 390 games with the Tigers, Kinsler has a .287 average, with 42 home runs and 212 RBIs. He has also stolen 33 bases, and has become part of a tremendous double play combination with Jose Iglesias. Kinsler has a fielding percentage of 98.7% as a Tiger, while playing at second base in all but one of the games he has played with Detroit (one at DH). He has held down the leadoff spot in the order for the majority of this season, while sporting a .351 on base percentage. He is under team control until the conclusion of the 2018 season, at an average salary of $15 million.

Meanwhile, Fielder required season ending neck surgery just 42 games into his first season with Texas. He played in all but four games for the Rangers last season, finishing with a .305 average, 23 home runs, and 98 RBIs. This season has been a different story for Fielder though, as he has a .221 average with just 7 home runs through 75 games. He is under contract until the conclusion of the 2021 season at an average salary of just under $24 million.

Injuries and a big drop in production for Fielder, and a steady, solid second baseman in Kinsler for the Tigers. At this point, it seems like this was one of the better trades that Dave Dombrowski made during his time with the Tigers.