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November 21, 2013

Fantasy Freestyle

The Fantasy Fallout of the Fielder-Kinsler Swap

by Bret Sayre

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The fantasy impact of the Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler trade go well beyond the two players involved, so we’re going to tackle its effects one-by-one and with lots of arrows. Who doesn’t love arrows? Let’s start with the Rangers’ side:

Prince Fielder

It’s not a significant jump in fantasy value, but Fielder should enjoy hitting in Texas slightly more than Detroit—less due to the scenery than the depth of the lineup. Fielder hasn’t scored more than 83 runs in the past two seasons, despite a .387 on-base percentage. With a better crop of hitters behind him in the new-look Texas lineup, expect that number to go up in 2014. He’s still not a top-15 player, as he was coming into the 2013 season, but overweighting his down year might be a huge mistake for fantasy owners.

Jurickson Profar

The biggest winner in this trade from a fantasy perspective is Profar, who now is a virtual lock to start the season as the Rangers’ second baseman. With the job in hand, he becomes an immediate top-10 option at the position, despite his struggles in sporadic 2013 playing time. Profar has the potential to be the no. 3 fantasy second baseman in baseball, behind Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia, as soon as 2014. And the odds only get better after that.

Mitch Moreland

It’s tempting to put a sideways arrow here, but it points down because the Rangers are unlikely to be finished after this trade. If the roster were frozen right now, Moreland would still stand to get around 400-450 at-bats in 2014, but Moreland owners should be a bit nervous. On the bright side, if the Rangers do sign his replacement, they are likely to trade him to a team that will give him playing time.

And on the Tigers’ side of the equation:

Ian Kinsler (in 2014)

It seems like you can’t throw a rock these days without hitting someone who’s citing Ian Kinsler’s home/road splits; the second baseman is a career .242/.312/.399 hitter away from Arlington. With that said, Detroit is not a bad place for right-handers to hit—despite a below-average home run rate, Comerica Park is above average for righty runs and extra-base hits. Kinsler will still likely be the no. 5 second baseman for fantasy heading into the 2014 season, but his days of being in the top three were over even before this trade.

Ian Kinsler (beyond 2014)

The reason this trade is a net win for Kinsler owners in keeper/dynasty leagues is that there was not a high-percentage chance that he would keep his second base eligibility past 2014 if he had stayed in Texas. The move to Detroit, however, allows him the opportunity to keep it through the end of his contract. Kinsler would have taken a huge hit in value were he to have been only outfield or (gasp) first-base eligible for 2015 and beyond.

Nick Castellanos

The other Tiger who likely stands to benefit positionally in fantasy is Castellanos, who was moved off third base last season and into left field. With Miguel Cabrera now moving over to first base, the door is open for Castellanos to move back to the hot corner and take the Opening Day job. The Rookie of the Year frontrunner talk is a little premature, but he should be a top-20 third baseman in 2014, with top-10 potential at his peak.

Miguel Cabrera

Don’t overthink this one. While the third-base eligibility was nice for a couple of seasons, Cabrera is the type of player who transcends position in fantasy. He’d be the second-best fantasy option for 2014 even if you could play him only at a utility spot.

Andy Dirks

It would still be somewhat surprising to see the Tigers go into 2014 with Dirks as their starting left fielder, but the chances of that being the case certainly went up with this trade. There’s more fantasy upside in his bat than he showed in 2013, and he could be a sneaky endgame pick in deeper leagues.

All Tigers Pitchers

Things were already looking up with Jose Iglesias replacing Jhonny Peralta, but adding Kinsler and having Cabrera replace Fielder at first base should be benefit the Tigers’ staff at least incrementally—especially ground ball artists like Doug Fister and Rick Porcello. Going from Cabrera to Castellanos at the hot corner could also save a couple of runs, but Castellanos was moved to the outfield for a reason, and it may not be pretty.

Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bret's other articles. You can contact Bret by clicking here

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Premium Article Skewed Left: My Column... (11/21)
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Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: AFL... (11/21)
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